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This is an introduction to the structure of sentences in human languages. It assumes no prior knowledge of linguistic theory and little of elementary grammar. It will suit students coming to syntactic theory for the first time either as graduates or undergraduates. It will also be useful for those in fields such as computational science, artificial intelligence, or cognitive psychology who need a sound knowledge of current syntactic theory.
Sentences in human languages are not just collections of random sounds with associated meanings. They involve a host of intriguing phenomena including constraints on possible word orders and the establishment of relationships between words and phrases which affect both phonological form and meaning. David Adger leads the reader in easy stages through the development of an approach which explains how these phenomena work. This approach is based on ideas from Noam Chomsky's Minimalist Programme - notably the derivational nature of the linguistic system, the interpretability of syntactic features, and the reduction of syntactic operations to Merge and Move. These ideas are explained in clear, simple terms, backed up with examples and diagrams. The book emphasizes the importance of cross-linguistic evidence in the development of syntactic arguments. Above all it demonstrates the value of building a consistent theoretical system via repeated processes of hypothesis testing and evaluation.
Exercises are provided at key points through the book. The book may be used as part of a course or for self-tuition. It offers a sound basis for advanced work in linguistics and related fields.