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A Minimalist View on the Syntax–Semantics Relationship

Turning the Mind into a Snowflake


Jaroslaw Jakielaszek

Current developments of the Minimalist Program in generative linguistics put the procedure of labeling syntactic objects at the center of the syntax–semantics transition. This book provides a discussion of consequences of such proposals for a proper analysis of different varieties of the operation Merge and their interpretive reflexes, as well as for the general theory of the syntax–semantics relationship. It argues that the absence of substitutional operations in Narrow Syntax should restrict the range of admissible interpretive operations on adjunction structures in the conceptual-intentional component. It also debates that syntactic chains are subject to interpretive procedures properly analyzed with the help of counterpart-theoretic concepts.

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Concluding remarks


Even if beginning with considerations about the nature of the relationship between narrow syntax and the C-I component and a proper direction of explanation of their properties may be said to fulfill King’s order and be ‘beginning at the beginning,’ we have certainly not ‘come to the end’: the foregoing remarks, indicating possible directions of further work, merely scratch the surface of the whole complex of issues arising in the context of elucidating the syntax-semantics transition with minimalist guidelines in mind. An important methodological principle for a minimalist inquiry into properties of narrow syntax, quoted in section 1.1.1 above, concerned ‘exotic constructions’:

There is also a general methodological point that should be kept in mind concerning “exotic constructions” such as ACD, parasitic gaps, or others for which the learner has little or no evidence (as is typically the case when the evidence is semantic). It is highly unlikely that they involve mechanisms other than those that account for simple and familiar constructions. There would be no way to learn such mechanisms, and it is implausible to think that they are properties of UG. These considerations impose significant constraints on investigation of these topics. Such investigation has often been highly revealing, but remains descriptive—posing problems to be solved—until this methodological condition is met. (Chomsky 2015b: 6–7)

Since much the same remarks concern the syntax-semantics transition and inner workings of the C-I component in general, they seem a proper guide to start...

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