Foundations and structure of language

  • Basic course information
  • Information about the final essay.
    • Here you have a list of 15 problems you can choose: list of problems for the final essay. Alternatively, you can propose me a subject for your essay.
    • Deadline: January 24.
    • By e-mail or in print (in my mailbox).
    • Extension: 5-7 pages AT MOST (references included). You are not required to explain basic theoretical concepts, but you must clearly explain the problem, its background (if needed) and the solution(s). You can also link the problem with the concepts and ideas discussed at class. Be clear, arrange the text coherently, and use your own words.
    • Format: 1 inch (2,54 cm) margins, single space, 12 pt typeface (Times, Arial or equivalent)
    • If delivered by e-mail, it should be a PDF file with your name as the filename (e.g. xaviervillalba.pdf). Don’t forget to identify yourself in the document.
  • Session 1 (October 6): Units and structures of syntax.
  • October 13: there is no class. You must
  • Session 2 (October 20): Units and structures of phonology.
  • Recommended video:
    Representations in phonology: Bruce Hayes (1980), Janet Pierrehumbert (1980), Lisa Selkirk (1972) from “50 Years of Linguistics at MIT: a Scientific Reunion” (December 9-11, 2011)
    YouTube Preview Image

  • Session 3 (October 27): There will be no class. You have a reading on basic tools for semantic description (set theory and logic), with some exercises. Read it and we will comment it at class on November 3
  • Recommended video: Harvard Whatmough Lecture, April 28, 2014.
    The History of Formal Semantics: Changing Notions of Semantic Competence
    Barbara H. Partee, Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Linguistics and Philosophy at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
    YouTube Preview Image

  • Session 4 (November 3): We will end the material on phonology units, we will comment, if needed, the reading on set theory and logic, and we will talk about basic concepts in semantics.
  • Session 5 (November 10): In the first part of the class We can comment, if needed, the exercise on truth-conditions. Then we will do an extra exercise that I will bring printed. In the second part, we will begin talking about rules.
    • Rules in grammar. These are the slides for next class (November 10).
    • For a clear and detailed explanation of phrase structure and transformational rules in traditional generative grammar, you can consult the following lectures by Charles T. J. Huang, professor at Harvard University and one of the mosrt influent syntacticians of the eighties and nineties. Phrase structure rules: 1, 2. Transformations: 1, 2, and 3.
    • A very clear historical summary of transformational grammar is Culicover, Peter W. The history of syntax. In Andrew Carnie, Dan Siddiqi, and Yosuke Sato, eds. Handbook of Syntax. Routledge, London. 2014.
  • Session 6 (November 17): I will be in Madrid participating in the Workshop on Linguistic Variation at the Interfaces. You can begin planning your final essay. Here you have a list of 15 problems you can choose: list of problems for the final essay. Alternatively, you can propose me a subject for your essay.
    • Summary of basic ideas of transformational grammar. In this document I explain in some detail the basic concepts underlying transformational grammar, in particular the enrichment of phrase structure grammar by means of transformations, and the later introduction of mechanisms for limiting the power of these transformations.
  • EXTRA SESSION (Thursday, November 23th) from 9 to 12h at the room B7/025 the Sala de Juntes of the Faculty, just in front of the main hall. Since I guess not everybody will be attending, I will concentrate on reviewing the basic concepts seen so far, and doing some exercises. Obviously, if there are any doubts or questions you want to raise, Thursday will be a well suited opportunity to do so.
  • Session 7 (November 24th): We will discuss Optimality Theory, a constraint-based approach to language, which concentrates on the interaction of ranked constraints for obtaining the optimal derivation.
  • EXTRA SESSION (Thursday, November 30) from 15 to 17.30h at classroom 306 of the Faculty. Since I guess not everybody will be attending, I will concentrate on reviewing the basic concepts seen so far, and doing some exercises. Obviously, if there are any doubts or questions you want to raise, Thursday will be a well suited opportunity to do so. Here you have the material we partially discussed on the previous extra session.
  • Last session with me (December 1st): We will work a bit more on optimality theory. We will finish consider cases from syntax.
  • EXTRA SESSION (Tuesday, December 12) from 15 to 17.30h at classroom 301 of the Faculty. I will offer some other examples of minimalist syntax (slides), but bring any doubts or questions you want to discuss.