Syntactic Carpentry: An Emergentist Approach to Syntax, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Syntactic Carpentry

An Emergentist Approach to Syntax, 1st Edition

By William O'Grady


248 pages

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pub: 2005-02-17
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Syntactic Carpentry: An Emergentist Approach to Syntax presents a groundbreaking approach to the study of sentence formation. Building on the emergentist thesis that the structure and use of language is shaped by more basic, non-linguistic forces—rather than by an innate Universal Grammar—William O'Grady shows how the defining properties of various core syntactic phenomena (phrase structure, co-reference, control, agreement, contraction, and extraction) follow from the operation of a linear, efficiency-driven processor. This in turn leads to a compelling new view of sentence formation that subsumes syntactic theory into the theory of sentence processing, eliminating grammar in the traditional sense from the study of the language faculty.

With this text, O'Grady advances a growing body of literature on emergentist approaches to language, and situates this work in a broader picture that also includes attention to key issues in the study of language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and agrammaticism.

This book constitutes essential reading for anyone interested in syntax and its place in the larger enterprise of cognitive science.


"The subject matter of the book crosses many sub-disciplines of the language sciences, and so will appeal to a broad range of researchers. The book would make an excellent addition to graduate-level courses on syntax, language processing, and language acquisition."

Journal of Child Language

"O'Grady has produced an admirably clear and convincingly argued volume laying out the fundamentals of emergentist syntax thesis that the important properties of human language can be derived from general processing mechanisms. The author makes a compelling case that a number of traditional grammatical principles, including control and pronoun binding, which other syntactic approaches have postulated as part of Universal Grammar, are the result of the way in which sentences are constructed in real time."

Fred Eckman

University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface. Language Without Grammer. More on Structure Building. Pronoun Interpretation. Control. 'Raising' Structures. Agreement. Wh Questions. The Syntax of Contraction. Syntax and Processing. Language Acquisition. Concluding Remarks.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Bilingual Education
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Grammar & Punctuation
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General