Minimalist Program Grammar Implementation

Sandiway Fong (University of Arizona)

Worked Examples from Derivation By Phase

Implements Chomsky's theory of narrow syntax as described in Derivation of Phase.

(See here for an extended grammar that attempts to handle Binding Theory facts.)

(See here for the incremental left-to-right parser version of the derivations on this page.)

(See lower section below for a summary of the theory.)

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Derivation steps:


  1. Recursive merge comes in two varieties:

    (I) external - take two syntactic objects α and &beta, merge to form syntactic object &gamma, which takes either label of α or &beta, and
    (II) internal - displaces α to the edge of &gamma, leaving a copy of α at the original site.

  2. Agree(&alpha,&beta) relates active probe α and to (one or more) goals β dominated by sister of α but less than two phase boundaries away. Uninterpretable, i.e. unvalued, features of both probe and goal are matched and deleted.

    Probes include v* and t. Goals include n. (See inventory below.)
    Note: this implementation uses n (not d) to head nominals. See the Binding theory implementation here for a more complex implementation.

    v* ("little v*") and t (tense): uninterpretable &phi-features, value accusative and nominative Case, respectively.
    v ("little v") and t(defective): uninterpretable &phi-features. Defective t is &phi-incomplete (person only).
    prt (particle): uninterpretable &phi-incomplete features (number and gender), uninterpretable Case.
    n: interpretable &phi-features, uninterpretable Case feature.
    n(expletive): uninterpretable &phi-incomplete features (person only), uninterpretable Case feature.
    Note: φ = grammatical person, number and gender features. Heads are active if they contain one or more uninterpretable features.

  3. Selection is via (head-complement) sisterhood. Basic sentential structure is laid out as follows: c (complementizer) selects for t (tense), t selects for v, and v selects for predicates such as V and a (adjectival). Transitive and unaccusative (but not unergative) V select for a theta object.

  4. t and v* both have an obligatory edge position.

  5. Phase heads are c (complementizer) and v when limited to v*. Maximal projections of phase heads constitute phase boundaries.

  6. A convergent derivation obtains if all lexical items are utilized and no unvalued features remain.

Last modified: Sun Mar 11 03:18:00 MST 2012