LINGUIST List 3.430

Fri 22 May 1992

Sum: Syntax Texts

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  1. BROADWELL GEORGE AARON, syntax textbooks -- a summary

Message 1: syntax textbooks -- a summary

Date: Mon, 18 May 92 15:48:16 -0syntax textbooks -- a summary
Subject: syntax textbooks -- a summary

About a week ago, I asked readers to share experiences with the Cowper and
Haegeman syntax textbooks. Here's what they said.
Here's a summary of responses about syntax textbooks:

It was clear from the responses that Cowper's book is a bit too new to have
been used by many people. I got one favorable evaluation from a respondant
who had read the text in manuscript, but I did not hear from anyone who
has used it in a class so far.

Responses on Haegeman's textbook were mixed. I have excerpted/paraphrased
comments below. There were five generally positive evaluations:

"... better than most texts.. well-received by the students, but it is
full of annoying mistakes and misprints"

"... quite happy with it ... there were no complaints from the students"

"... it was harder than Radford, but most students preferred Haegeman to
Radford, which they found long-winded, condescending, or just plain moronic"

"... students found it lucid, funny, and well-organized"

"... relatively happy with it... generally understandable and well-
organized. Criticisms: tends to introduce theoretical concepts first
and the justification for them later..."

And three mostly negative evaluations:

"... tended to digress ... chooses to focus on unclear examples, e.g. the
theta-criterion and implicit arguments early on in the book;... case-marking
is frequently exemplified with ECM verbs, which the students found unconvinc-

"students unanimously despised it... incredibly unclear ... poorly organized
... I recommend against it."

"... on the positive side, it is well-organized and has good references. On
the negative side, there is poor argumentation and data that doesn't support
the claims made in the text... there is also no mention of any non-GB syntax.
...I found it useful for teaching students how to identify poor argumentation."

As a generalization, it seemed that GB practictioners tended to be
significantly happier with the book than others.

(There were also votes for Lasnik and Uriagereka's *A Course in GB Syntax*
and for Chomsky's *Managua Lectures*.)

Thanks to all who wrote.
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