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March Notes on the Antisymmetry of Syntax. Bernhard Rohrbacher. University of Pennsylvania. Follow this and additional works at. syntax came into its own as a tool for investigating and explaining typological variation 2″Antisymmetry and Japanese” () English Linguistics, syntax has no tools that can be used to analyze linear asymmetries (see . closer to answering the questions raised by Kayne’s antisymmetry.

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Editor for this issue: Kayne, The Antisymmetry of Syntax Editor for this issue: Thu, 23 Nov Linguistic Inquiry Monograph Twenty-Five. Reviewed by Milena Slavcheva, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences The monograph consists of ten chapters grouped in four parts.

In Chapter 1, “Introduction and Proposal”, R. The formalized syntactic structure of natural languages contains several groups of relations that are represented differently in the different theories, thus determining the various kinds of approaches to syntactic phenomena.

A fundamental relation is that between a hierarchical representation of sentential elements and their linear order, i. It is exactly here that R.

Contrary to the standard assumption that a given hierarchical representation is associated with more than one linear order, and the wide spread separate treatment of phrase structure and linear order, the author formulates the following hypothesis: Each one of the relations has specific properties.

The linear ordering of terminals is transitive, total, and antisymmetric. The dominance relation on nonterminals is not a linear ordering, and it is transitive and antisymmetric, but is not total, i. Kayne finds the point where all the properties of dominance and linear ordering coincide, that is when dominance is restricted to the set of nodes dominating a given node.

In this sense dominance becomes locally total and consequently, a locally linear ordering. Kayne first adds antisymmetry to fhe and then restricts phrase structures to binary-branching ones, thus turning c-command into a locally total, and hence into a locally linear relation.

In this way, the author gets two locally linear relations on nonterminals, i. By comparable, I now mean locally linear.

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Kayne takes the locally linear relation of asymmetric c-command of nonterminals “to be the one that is closely matched to the linear ordering of the set of terminals. The LCA is the central statement in the monograph, it is the basis for all syntactic representations in the rest of the chapters. Kayne illustrates the application of LCA within the phrase markers of X-bar theory providing some of the main postulates of that theory with explanations directly derived from the LCA.

Chapter 3 treats the fundamental problem of adjunction. Kayne introduces some refinement to his theory of phrase structure in order to include specifiers and adjoined phrases into the phrase markers. That is achieved by the introduction of segments in phrase structures and the distinction between a segment and a category. In such a way, the author ensures antisymmetry, the main property of phrase structures necessary for the correspondence between the hierarchical structure of nonterminals and the linear order of terminals.


Kayne considers adjunction as an operation involving heads, nonheads, clitics, specifiers, and formulates rules about what can be adjoined to what, in how many and what kind of steps.

LINGUIST List R. Kayne, The Antisymmetry of Syntax

He gives several generalizations about the adjunction of syntactic units which are important for the further development of the theory in the following chapters: A nonhead cannot be adjoined to a head.

Multiple adjunction to a head is not allowed, thus, for example, in the adjunction of heads to heads “sequences of clitics must not be analyzed as successive adjunctions to the same head”. The adjunction of more than one nonhead to a given nonhead is impossible.

Adjunction of a head to a nonhead is systematically unavailable. It is in this chapter that Xyntax. Kayne formulates in the form of linguistic universals the linear orderings of the main syntactic constituents. Kayne claims that a specifier and a complement are always on the opposite sides of the head. What is more, he concludes that “specifier-head-complement, and not the reverse, is the only order available to the subcomponents of a phrase”. Another generalization about linear order concerns the adjunction of heads.

Te the same chapter, the author turns to the structure below the word level and tries to explore how the theory works at the morphemic level. The rules of the presented syntactic theory are applied to subword structure and the linear ordering of morphemes is considered.

We can define the chapters from 1 to 4 as those representing, so to say, the static part of the syntactic model. Word order is extremely abstract and fixed, thus the main goal of the author is achieved: The range of possible phrase structures, as statements of Universal Grammar, is reduced to a minimal set.

LINGUIST List 6.1651

But the word order variations of natural languages must be expressed. How is that done? Once the underlying order is fixed, there come into use different combinations of movements. Here again the basic principle of restrictiveness is observed.

In the rest of the chapters R. Kayne tries to find the most plausible movement rules. As a natural consequence to the uniquely imposed specifier-head-complement order, movements are also highly restricted to given positions in the role of suitable landing sites for moving constituents.

The principles of structure, word order thee movement require the antisymmegry of a great number of abstract heads as an important device kanyd constructing the phrases of the formal description according to the basic assumptions of the theory. In chapter 5 R. Kayne makes the important conclusion that the Linear Correspondence Axiom applies to all syntactic representations having in mind that in the tradition of transformational grammar there are several levels of representation such as D-structure, LF, and PF.

In accordance with the universal word order of heads and complements, R. Kayne claims that antisymmetfy movement kf always leftward. Structures in different languages, including the so called head-final languages, are derived in such a way that this generalization is preserved.

Kayne concludes that “no movement rule can adjoin anything to the right of anything” [p. Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9 are dedicated to the application of the theory represented in the previous chapters to different syntactic phenomena.


Arguments antisymmrtry given for the acceptance of one phrase structure or another as the formal antidymmetry of certain facts of natural languages. Chapter 6 deals with coordination. The role of coordinating conjunctions in the phrase markers is considered.

A principled account is given for the coordination of heads, including clitics, for the coordination with “with”, for right node antisymmftry.

All considerations obey the basic statement that right-adjunction is forbidden. Chapter 7 treats complementation. Here the basic assumptions determining the representation of structures are the following: Relatives and possessives are the topic of Chapter 8, namely, postnominal possessives in English, relative clauses in English, N-final relative clauses, reduced relatives and adjectives, nonrestrictive relatives. The chapter deals with very concrete issues, all of them illustrating how the Linear Correspondence Axiom and the accompanying principles work in practice.

Chapter 9, entitled “Extraposition”, describes relative clause extraposition, result clauses and ths. Relative clause extrapositon is reanalyzed as relative clause stranding. Kayne reveals o advantages of this analysis and proves its compatibility with his theory. That is achieved through the detailed analysis of concrete syntactic structures.

Result clauses are represented in terms of LF raising of some sentential elements, for example “so”. Comparatives are considered to display double behaviour: Chapter 9 is a conclusion where R.

Kayne sums up the basic ideas of his theory and points out the advantages of the proposed representations. Kayne’s monograph treats a fundamental issue in formal linguistic theories: He first poses his original underlying approach to the problem: He not only makes his general statements, but also gives solutions to word order issues in a number of concrete cases applying his basic proposals about the place of word order in the fo of syntactic structures.

In the monograph, syntactic representation is understood in terms of the research framework of transformational grammar let’s use this name for the well known framework with its specific levels of structure and operations. The high degree of restrictiveness, an important part of which is antisymmetry, makes R.

Kayne’s theory extremely syntzx with a great number of movement rules and abstract functional heads. The theory is an interesting, clearly defined approach to linguistic structure within the tradition of the big trend of transformational grammar. Undoubtedly, it is a contribution to the armoury of competing formal approaches to natural language.

Let me finish with the last sentence of R. Kayne’s monograph, revealing the flavour of his formal linguistic approach: Having a lot of experience in modelling morphological knowledge and the creation of a large grammatical computer dictionary of Bulgarian.


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