Syntax: A Generative Introduction

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 @ 10:32AM

by Andrew Carnie
–Review by Joel Deacon

Carnie’s Introduction to Syntax is a decent place to begin an exploration of syntactic theory. Carnie is often cited in many syntactic papers and proves himself to be a fairly easy read.  If one is serious about syntactic theory or if you are an instructor of syntax, problems might arise from both the length of time spent on the subject of X-bar Theory and the lack of a complete explanation of the Minimalist Theory of syntax.  X-bar Theory certainly has its merits, but it has been largely replaced by Minimalism for quite some time.  The same would go for the chapters on Government and Binding.  It is important to know these things to understand some of the reasoning behind present theories and to understand older papers on syntax.  However, since syntax has changed so much over a short period of time, students can easily get skeptical about the merits of any of it.  Also while the inclusion of competing, Non-Chomsky governed, theories such as Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG) and Head Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) is good, they are placed almost as optional chapters at the very end and are thus easily ignored.  Moreover, the problem sets at the end of each chapter could be helpful for an instructor, but as a beginner may not be helpful, as no solutions are provided.  Nonetheless, I would recommend this book to both true beginners and those who have completed an introductory course in Linguistics.

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Categories: Book Reviews, Joel Deacon

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