In Phrase Structure Composition and Syntactic Dependencies, Robert Frank explores an approach to syntactic theory that weds the Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG) formalism with the minimalist framework. The TAG formalism has been extensively studied both for its mathematical properties and for its usefulness in computational linguistics applications. Frank shows that incorporating TAG's formally restrictive operations for structure building considerably simplifies the model of grammatical competence, particularly in the components concerned with syntactic movement and locality. The empirical advantages of the resulting model, illustrated with extensive case studies of subject-raising constructions and wh-questions, point toward a conception of grammar that is sharply limited in its computational power.
Robert Frank is Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University