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  1. A Computational Guide to the Dichotomy of Features and Constraints

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract A contentious issue in the Minimalist literature is whether certain phenomena are best described in terms of features or constraints. Building on recent work in mathematical linguistics, I argue that constraints and features are interchangeable in Minimalist syntax. This does not invalidate ...

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  2. Adjuncts, Conjuncts, Ojuncts: Deriving Strong Island Constraints

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract Adjuncts differ from arguments by a number of properties, in particular i) optionality and ii) their island status, which renders them opaque for extraction of subconstituents. Conjuncts, too, are optional and forbid extraction. Starting from this basic observation, I demonstrate that islandhood ...

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  3. A Hidden Consensus: Computational Invariants of Minimalist Syntax

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract A common sentiment among linguists is that the Minimalist literature features a dazzling array of competing proposals that seem to share little common ground in their technical assumptions. While differences certainly do exist between accounts, a computationally informed perspective reveals a set ...

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  4. A Computational Guide to the Dichotomy of Features and Constraints

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract I draw on various result from mathematical linguistics to argue that feature-based accounts and constraint-based ones should not be viewed as competing with each other but rather as complementing each other. In particular, recent results on Minimalist grammars show that features and ...

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  5. Beyond the Apparent: Cognitive Parallels Between Syntax and Phonology

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract One of the central changes in 20th century linguistics was the reconceptualization of language as a cognitive ability rather than merely an abstract relational system of signs —- in the terminology of Chomsky (1986), the move from E-language to I-language. This shift entails ...

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  6. Local and Transderivational Constraints in Syntax and Semantics

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract A long-standing tension in Minimalist syntax is that between the structure-building operations Merge and Move on the one hand and the constraints restricting the shape of the structures built by said operations on the other. Proposals differ vastly in how much weight ...

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  7. The Syntactic Algebra of Adjuncts

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract I argue that the special behavior of adjuncts is a consequence of two properties that set them apart from arguments: optionality and independence.

    • Optionality Adjuncts can be omitted.
    • Independence Independently well-formed adjuncts can be combined.

    These properties yield several grammaticality inferences that ...

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  8. Concealed Reference-Set Computation: How Syntax Escapes the Parser’s Clutches

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract It has been conjectured that all properties of language beyond recursion can be motivated by interface requirements. One component in this setup is the parser, which is thought to give rise to a preference for computational parsimony. I discuss a mathematical result ...

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  9. Optimality Is Not a Race: Against a Performance-Based View of Reference-Set Computation

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract Reference-set constraints (RCs; also known as transderivational constraints) differ from standard well-formedness conditions in that for every tree, they compute a set of output candidates called its reference set and pick from said set the optimal candidate(s) according to some economy ...

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  10. Lost in Translation: A Formal Model of Merge-over-Move and Its Implications for the Language Faculty

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract I demonstrate that Merge-over-Move (MOM), a transderivational constraint (TC) put forward in Chomsky (1995, 2000), can be modeled by linear tree transducers, i.e.\ machines that take a tree as input and traverse it from the leaves towards the root while at ...

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  11. Concealed Reference-Set Computation or How Syntax Escapes the Parser’s Clutches

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract A core assumption of the biolinguistic program is that all properties of language beyond recursion can be motivated by requirements imposed by other cognitive modules. One component in this setup is the parser, which is thought to give rise to a preference ...

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  12. A Tree Transducer Model of Reference-Set Computation

    Graf, Thomas

    Abstract Reference-set constraints are a special class of constraints used in Minimalist syntax. They extend the notion of well-formedness beyond the level of single trees: When presented with some phrase structure tree, they compute its set of competing output candidates and determine the ...

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