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Symmetry Breaking and Symmetry Restoration

Evidence from English Syntax of Coordination

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Szymon J. Napierała

This book treats the faculty of language as part of the Universe subject to physical laws. It presents phenomena from syntax and semantics in the interdisciplinary context. The author analyses the origin of syntax and semantics as autonomous modules (asymmetry), even though they display parallelisms (symmetry). He presents linguistic phenomena in the interdisciplinary context where spontaneous symmetry breaking has a central explanatory role, as it is the case in the physical world.

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Chapter 4: Empirical evidence: coordination

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4.1     Coordination – introduction

Still another empirical field to test the SSB hypothesis advocated in this book as well as the related issue of the autonomy of syntax is linguistic coordination. Coordinate structures appear to be more symmetric than subordinate structures at what Carston (2003:254) would call a pre-theoretic level of analysis. As they involve two (or more) phrases that appear to have similar linguistic status conjoined with a conjunction, they used to be considered an exception to X-bar theoretic binary syntax. Namely, coordinate structure like (98) were described by means of ternary branching.

As illustrated in (99), coordinate constructions including two or more coordinated conjuncts and subordinate constructions involving minimally two recursively embedded phrases differ in terms of endocentricity, at least at a pre-theoretic level of analysis.

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