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Some Interdefinability Results for Syntactic Constraint Classes

Graf, Thomas

Abstract Choosing as my vantage point the linguistically motivated Müller-Sternefeld hierarchy (Müller and Sternefeld 2000), which classifies constraints according to their locality properties, I investigate the interplay of various syntactic constraint classes on a formal level. For non-comparative constraints, I use Rogers’ (2003) framework of multi-dimensional trees to state Müller and Sternefeld’s definitions in general yet rigorous terms that are compatible with a wide range of syntactic theories, and I formulate conditions under which distinct non-comparative constraints are equivalent. Comparative constraints, on the other hand, are shown to be best understood in terms of optimality systems (Frank and Satta 1998). From this I derive that some of them are reducible to non-comparative constraints.

The results jointly vindicate a broadly construed version of the Müller-Sternefeld hierarchy, yet they also support a refined picture of constraint interaction that has profound repercussions for both the study of locality phenomena in natural language and how the complexity of linguistic proposals is to be assessed.

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  author    = {Graf, Thomas},
  title     = {Some Interdefinability Results for Syntactic Constraint
  year      = {2010},
  booktitle = {The Mathematics of Language},
  pages     = {72--87},
  editor    = {Ebert, Christian and Jäger, Gerhard and Michaelis, Jens},
  volume    = {6149},
  series    = {Lecture Notes in Computer Science},
  address   = {Heidelberg},
  publisher = {Springer}