LINGUIST List 13.1745

Thu Jun 20 2002

Review: Syntax:A Generative Introduction, Carnie (2002)

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  1. Alexandra Galani, Carnie (2002) Syntax: A Generative Introduction

Message 1: Carnie (2002) Syntax: A Generative Introduction

Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 16:26:17 +0000
From: Alexandra Galani <>
Subject: Carnie (2002) Syntax: A Generative Introduction

Carnie, Andrew (2002) Syntax: A Generative Introduction.
Blackwell Publishers, xv+390pp, paperback ISBN 0-631-22544-7, $ 34.00

Book Announcement on Linguist:

Alexandra Galani, Department of Language and Linguistic Science,
University of York, UK


This textbook is an introduction to syntactic theory. It is mainly
written in the Principles and Parameters framework (chapters 1-11),
although it briefly covers some of the fundamental notions and ideas
of the Minimalist Program (chapter 12) and the frameworks of
Lexical-Functional Grammar (chapter 13) and Head-Driven Phrase
Structure Grammar (chapter 14). It aims to provide an introductory
guide to students who are unfamiliar with syntactic concepts. It is
also supported by an instructor's manual and online resources for both
students and instructors. Each chapter is supplemented with the rich
use of examples, and contains a summary of the issues raised in that
chapter and of the main points that will be discussed in the next one,
an appendix explaining the terminology used in that chapter, and
references for further reading. Finally problem sets are provided,
which enable students to apply the theoretical concepts to the
analysis of a variety of languages. The discussion is often
accompanied with textboxes presenting issues for further

The book is divided into four parts: 
- Part 1: Preliminaries (pp. 1-104)
- Part 2: The Base (pp. 105-186)
- Part 3: Transformations (pp. 187-332)
- Part 4: Alternatives (pp. 333-376)

It concludes with a sketch of the main issues discussed throughout and
a section entitled "Where to go from here", with references for
further reading. A bibliography (pp. 379-384) and subject index
(pp. 385-390) are also included. In what follows I aim to provide as
many details as possible on what each chapter is about and then
proceed to the book's evaluation.

Part 1: Preliminaries 

Chapter 1: Generative Grammar 

The first chapter of this part introduces the main principles of
Generative Grammar. It briefly discusses the notion of big and little
"l" language and presents definitions of syntax, phonetics, phonology,
morphology, semantics, cognitive science, prescriptive and descriptive
grammars, anaphor, grammatical gender, antecedent, number, person,
case, nominative, accusative, corpus, semantic and syntactic
judgements, learning, acquisition, recursion, observationally,
explanatorily and descriptively adequate grammars, innate, universal
grammar, the logical problem of acquisition, underdetermination of the
data, universal, scientific method and the use of the asterisk. The
readers are further referred to Chomsky (1965) and Jackendoff (1993)
amongst others. In the problem sets the students are invited to judge
whether a number of sentences are grammatical or ungrammatical and
define their answers in terms of prescriptive or descriptive
judgements as well as whether the ungrammaticality relates to the
semantics or syntax. Moreover there are tasks on innateness,
prescriptive rules, universals, learning versus acquisition, levels of
adequacy and anaphora.

Chapter 2: Fundamentals: Rules, Trees and Parts of Speech 

In this chapter the syntactic categories of noun, verb, preposition,
adverb and adjective as well as open versus closed classes of speech
are introduced. The author discusses constituency and constituency
tests (movement, clefting, preposing and coordination), trees,
hierarchical structure and the phrase structure rules: noun phrase,
verb phrase, adverb phrase, adjective phrase, prepositional phrase. He
further introduces the notion of recursivity, the principle of
modification and the ways for drawing trees. The readers are referred
to Chomsky (1957, 1965) and Radford (1988) amongst others. Finally
students are asked to deal with a series of questions related to the
parts of speech, the drawing of trees and bracketed diagrams and the
formulation of phrase structure rules for given English, Nootka,
Bambara, Hixkaryana and Irish sentences.

Chapter 3: Structural Relations 

The aim of this chapter is to discuss the properties of trees:
branches, node, label, root node, terminal node, and non-terminal
node. He further explores the structural relations: (immediate,
exhaustive, axioms of) dominance, mother, daughter, constituent,
(axioms of) precedence, (symmetric, asymmetric) c-commanding, binding,
no crossing branches constraint and grammatical relations (subject,
object, object of preposition, indirect object and obliques). The
students are further referred to Chomsky (1975), Higginbothan (1985)
and Reinhart (1983) and are invited to discuss the structural and
grammatical relations in given English, Tzotzil and Hiaki sentences as
well as negative polarity items.

Chapter 4: Binding Theory 

In this chapter Binding Theory is discussed; anaphors, R-expressions,
pronouns, coindex, antecedent, indices, binding, Binding Principles A,
B and C as well as the locality conditions (locality constraint,
binding domain). Students are further referred to the works of Chomsky
(1980), Higginbotham (1980) and Reinhart (1976). The problem sets
invite the students to explain the ungrammaticality of some sentences
in terms of the binding principles, distinguish the distribution of
pronouns/anaphors in Japanese sentences, wh-questions and pronouns in
Persian and c-commanding and precedence in English.

Part 2: The Base 

Chapter 5: X-Bar Theory 

Carnie briefly presents X-Bar theory in this chapter. He introduces
the bar-level projections (N', V', A', P'), the 'one'-replacement and
'do-so'-replacement processes, the X-Bar schema, the notions of head,
endocentricity, complements, adjuncts (and their rules in NPs, VPs,
APs, PPs), specifiers (and the rules), sentence and conjunction rules
and the parameters of word order. He finally offers a section on
drawing trees in X-Bar notation. The students are referred to Chomsky
(1970), Jackendoff (1977), Kayne (1994), Lightfoot (1991), Radford
(1988) for further reading on X-bar theory. The problem sets
incorporate tree drawing, explanation within X-Bar theory of the
ungrammaticality of certain German word orders as well as of the
position of complements, adjuncts and specifiers in Japanese

Chapter 6: Extending X-Bar Theory: CP, TP and DP 

In this chapter DPs (free-genitive, construct), TPs (clause, subject,
predicate phrase, root, embedded, complement, adjunct, specifier,
finite, non-finite clauses, Case (nominative, accusative) and T-to-C),
CPs (yes/no questions, subject/aux inversion, null complementizer) are
discussed. Students are referred to Chomsky (1991) and Pollock (1989)
amongst others and are invited to discuss the function of that in
English, identify the subjects, predicate phrases, clause types, draw
the trees for English sentences by using CPs, TPs and DPs, argue on
the possibility that modals are of category T, whereas auxiliaries are
verbs and finally identify the possessor DP in a Hungarian sentence.

Chapter 7: Constraining X-Bar Theory: Theta Roles and the Lexicon 

Theta-roles and the lexicon are discussed in this chapter. In specific
the notions of predicate, arguments, argument structure, intransitive,
transitive and ditransitive verbs, categorisation and selectional
restrictions, thematic relations (agent, experiencer, theme, goal,
recipient, source, location, instrument, benefactive), theta grid,
external versus internal theta roles and the theta criterion are
explored. Furthermore the lexicon (computational component, lexical
items, the projection principle), expletives, expletive insertion and
the Extended Projection Principle are introduced. The works of
Grimshaw (1990) and Haegeman (1990) amongst others are proposed for
further reading. In the problem sets students are asked to identify
the theta roles and provide the theta grid for Sinhala, Warlpiri,
Hiaki and (passive) English sentences as well as identify the problems
the theta criterion imposes in Irish sentences and object expletives
in English. They are finally asked to work on a comparative
analysis on the antipassives in English and Inuriaq sentences.

Part 3: Transformations 

Chapter 8: Head-to-Head Movement 

The computational component is further discussed in this chapter (the
base, D-structure, underlying representation, transformational rules,
S-structure) in addition to a discussion on head-to-head movement;
V-to-T in French, English and Irish (verb raising parameter, VP
internal subject hypothesis), NP movement, T-to-C, and
do-support. Finally Carnie provides some tests for determining whether
a language has V-to-T or affix lowering. Students are also referred to
Emonds (1980) and Koopman and Sportiche (1991) amongst others. The
problem sets include exercises on identifying and providing evidence
on whether a given language (Persian, German, Italian) has V-to-T or
lowering, whether the American versus the British English verb have
undergoes movement and finally discuss the Germanic V2, the Hebrew
construct state (N-to-D), the Italian N-to-D, the analysis of English
quantifiers, proper names and nouns.

Chapter 9: NP/DP Movement 

NP/DP movement is discussed in chapter 9. Specifically Carnie
incorporates raising, Case, the Case filter, passives and their
morphology, the VP internal subject hypothesis, the locality condition
on theta role assignment, the unaccusatives and Burzio's
generalisation in the discussion. Students are further referred to
Burzio (1986) and Chomsky (1995) amongst others. The ungrammaticality
of certain English sentences, the Persian accusative, middles,
unaccusatives, passives, causatives and double object constructions in
English, subject-to-subject and subject-to-object raising in English
and the raising of Turkish nouns are addressed in this chapter's
problem sets.

Chapter 10: Raising, Control and Empty Categories 

Raising, control and empty categories are the main subjects of the
discussion in this chapter: control sentence, clausal subject
construction, extraposition, subject-to-subject raising, Exceptional
Case Marking, equi, object control, the ways in distinguishing raising
from control, control theory, obligatory versus optional control, PRO,
pro, arbitrary PRO, the null subject parameter and pragmatics. The
works of Chomsky (1965) and Hornstein (1999), amongst others, are
introduced for further reading. Finally students are invited to
determine whether some predicates in English are control or raising
and discuss PRO and pro in Icelandic and Irish respectively.

Chapter 11: wh-Movement 

Wh-movement is discussed in chapter 11; wh-island, bounding theory,
bounding nodes, the subjacency constraint, the doubly filled CP and
that-trace filters. Students are referred to Lighfoot (1976) and Rizzi
(1982). Wh-words in English, Irish and Serbo-Croatian, binding and
scrambling are parts of the problem sets.

Chapter 12: Towards Minimalism 

The principle of Full Interpretation, local configuration, the Minimal
Link Condition, subjacency, universal and existential quantifiers,
scope (wide, narrow), economy conditions, Logical form (LF), Phonetic
form (PF), movement (overt, covert), functional categories, wh-in
situ, strong versus weak features and merge are briefly presented in
this chapter. Students are further referred to Chomsky (1993) and Heim
and Kratzer (1998) amongst others, and they are invited to discuss PF
movement and wh-questions in Serbo-Croatian versus English in the
problem sets.

Part 4: Alternatives 

Chapter 13: Lexical-Functional Grammar

Lexical-Functional Grammar is briefly outlined in this chapter:
movement paradoxes, C-structure, F-structure, A-structure, grammatical
function, the attribute value matrix, variables, metavariable,
functional equation, F-description, annotated C-structure,
unification, uniqueness, completeness, coherence, head mobility, the
lexical rule of passives, open function, functional control and
raising versus control are the issues presented.

Chapter 14: Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 

In the final chapter of this book some of the most fundamental parts
of Head-Driven Phrase Structure are presented: features, SYN-SEM
structure, coreference tags, the argument realisation principles, the
plural, passive, head complement, head modifier, head specifier, head
filter rules, compositional, feature satisfaction, head feature,
valence, semantic compositionally, semantic inheritance, the GAP
principles, and Principles A and B.


Although this book is an introduction to syntactic theory, it offers a
satisfactory discussion of many issues, and imparts fundamental
knowledge to students unfamiliar with syntax. It enables them not only
to grasp most of the main principles of the Principles and Parameters
framework, but also offers an introduction to some of the main notions
of Minimalism, Lexical-Functional Grammar and Head-Driven Phrase
Structure Grammar and leads them to become familiar with the process
of argumentation. Throughout, common mistakes and pitfalls are pointed
out and ways of avoiding them are highlighted. The exercises also
enable the students to apply the theoretical concepts not only to
English syntax but also cross-linguistically. The book is written in a
reader-friendly way, and guides students to grasp complicated
syntactic concepts and analyses. As a whole, the book is
well-organised, coherent and user-friendly. The discussion is
illustrated by numerous examples and the chapters are organised so
as to support cross-reference. The introduction and the conclusion of
each chapter provide an excellent guide on what each chapter is/was
about as well as the contents of the remaining chapters. I also
believe that the references to further reading are not only
appropriate but also absolutely necessary. In addition the appendices
on the terminology used in each chapter are extremely useful. Bearing
in mind the intentions of the author to offer an INTRODUCTION to
syntactic theory, he takes the most straightforward position on
controversial matters in order to avoid confusion. This also applies
to the positions he takes on the solutions to the problem sets in the
Instructor's Manual which accompanies the book.

The book does not deal with some syntactic topics that many would
consider important. In the Instructor's Handbook, the author lists
decisions he has made that account for some of these omissions. For
example, he assumes that auxiliaries are generated in T, not Aux, so
that they do not have to undergo V-to-T; consequently he does not need
to refer to VP-shells. He also acknowledges omitting discussion of
government and of VP ellipsis. However, the book would have been even
stronger had it included some discussion or references to these and
other topics, such as uninterpretable features, linearization
principles, argument/adjunct asymmetries in extraction, participles,
imperatives, phrasal verbs, small clauses, and 'donkey' sentences. I
also feel that more attention could have been paid to modal verbs and

Here is a listing of some misprints and other infelicities. 

- page 35: example (33b) "the very yellow book". Footnote (3) refers
 to this sentence: " (33b) an adverb (very) followed by an
 adjective (big)".

- page 145: "Determiners like the and 's and are different tokens of
 the same type".

- page 157: " is a tree drawn in section 6.2. of chapter 5,
 this time with CP and TP instead of S' and S, and DP". When you go
 back to page 137, only S is used in that tree.

- page 170: "Examples (36-39) show that either having too many or two
 few arguments results...".

- page 171: "...we are going allow..."

- page 189: example (1): Kissed Mary the leprechaun: "In this
 sentence, the subject (a specifier) intervenes between the subject and
 the object".

- page 194: "Before doing looking at an example, consider for a moment..."

- page 295: "A simple wh-question like (52) violates..." This should
 be example (47) and not (52).

-page 307: Further reading: Chomsky (1986) comes before Chomsky (1977). 

- page 315: "Move actually predates Minimalism but it an important
 part of the theory".

- page 349: "The movement approach thus correctly predicts that (30a
 and b) will be ungrammatical, but (31c)..." The correct number of the
 first set of examples is (31a and b). Example (30) is a tree.

- INSTRUCTOR'S HANDBOOK: page 33: "The EPP and expletives are also
 introduced in this chapters".

- page 48: "I discuss the various syntactic, thematic/semantic, and
 pragmatic accounts that have been suggest for controlling PRO".

In addition the topics preposing, clefting and pseudoclefting are
missing from the index.


Burzio, Luigi (1986) Italian Syntax. Dordrecht: Reidel. 

Chomsky, Noam (1957) Syntactic Structures. The Hague: Mouton. 

Chomsky, Noam (1965) Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Chomsky, Noam (1970) Remarks on nominalization. In R. Jacobs and
P. Rosenbaum (eds) Reading in English Transformational
Grammar. Waltham: Ginn. pp.184-221.

Chomsky, Noam (1975) The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory. New
York: Plenum.

Chomsky, Noam (1980) On Binding. Linguistic Inquiry 11:1-46.

Chomsky, Noam (1991) Some notes on economy of derivation and
representation. In R. Friedin (ed.), Principles and Parameters in
Comparative Grammar. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam (1993) A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In
K. L. Hale and S. Keyser (eds), The View from Building 20: Essays in
Honor of Sylvain Bromberger. Cambridge: MIT Press. Pp.1-52.

Chomsky, Noam (1995) The Minimalist Program. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Emonds, Joseph (1980) Word order in Generative Grammar. Journal of
Linguistic Research 1:33-54.

Grimshaw, Jane (1990) Argument Structure. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Haegeman, Liliane (1994) Introduction to Government and Binding
Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.

Heim, Irene and Kratzer, Angelika (1998) Semantics in Generative
Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.

Higginbotham, James (1980) Pronouns and bound variables. Linguistic
Inquiry 11:697-708.

Higginbotham, James (1985) A note on phrase markers. MIT Working
Papers in Lingustics 6:87-101.

Hornstein, Norbert (1999) Movement and control. Linguistic Inquiry 30:69-96. 

Jackendoff, Ray (1977) X-Bar Syntax: A Theory of Phrase
Structure. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Jackendoff, Ray (1993) Patterns in the Mind. London: Harvester-Wheatsheaf. 

Kayne, Richard (1994) The Antisymmetry of Syntax. Cambridge: MIT

Koopman, Hilda and Sportiche, Dominique (1991) The position of
subjects. Lingua 85:211-258.

Lightfoot, David (1976) Trace theory and twice moved NPs. Linguistic
Inquiry 7:559-582.

Lightfoot, David (1991) How to Set Parameters: Evidence from Language
Change. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Pollock, Jean-Yves (1986) Verb-movement, Universal Grammar and the
structure of IP. Linguistic Inquiry 23:261-303.

Radford, Andrew (1988) Transformational Grammar: A First
Course. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press .

Reinhart, Tanya (1976) The syntactic domain of anaphora. PhD Dissertation, MIT.

Reinhart, Tanya (1983) Anaphora and Semantic Interpretation. London:
Croom Helm.

Rizzi, Luigi (1982) Issues in Italian Syntax. Dordrecht: Foris. 


Alexandra Galani is a PhD student at the Department of Language and
Linguistic Science at the University of York, United Kingdom. She is
working on the morphosyntax and the semantics of tense and aspect in
Modern Greek within the theoretical framework of Distributed
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