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Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach (Core Linguists) [Paperback]

David Adger
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 Aug 2003 0199243700 978-0199243709
This is an introduction to the structure of sentences in human languages. It assumes no prior knowledge of linguistic theory and little of elementary grammar. It will suit students coming to syntactic theory for the first time either as graduates or undergraduates. It will also be useful for those in fields such as computational science, artificial intelligence, or cognitive psychology who need a sound knowledge of current syntactic theory.

Sentences in human languages are not just collections of random sounds with associated meanings. They involve a host of intriguing phenomena including constraints on possible word orders and the establishment of relationships between words and phrases which affect both phonological form and meaning. David Adger leads the reader in easy stages through the development of an approach which explains how these phenomena work. This approach is based on ideas from Noam Chomsky's Minimalist Programme - notably the derivational nature of the linguistic system, the interpretability of syntactic features, and the reduction of syntactic operations to Merge and Move. These ideas are explained in clear, simple terms, backed up with examples and diagrams. The book emphasizes the importance of cross-linguistic evidence in the development of syntactic arguments. Above all it demonstrates the value of building a consistent theoretical system via repeated processes of hypothesis testing and evaluation.

Exercises are provided at key points through the book. The book may be used as part of a course or for self-tuition. It offers a sound basis for advanced work in linguistics and related fields.

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Core Syntax: A Minimalist Approach (Core Linguists) + Syntax: A Generative Introduction (Introducing Linguistics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (28 Aug 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199243700
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199243709
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 17.4 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 372,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Adger truly manages to achieve a good balance between a formal theoretical model and its empirical coverage. Each chapter includes excellent problem sets and a list of further readings... The author takes a lot of time to illustrate each derivation step by step, thus helping students to see the workings of a formal syntactic system. Another very positive characteristic is the approach to crosslinguistic variation, which is given consistently in terms of features.... I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a text that presents minimalist syntax in a clear way and with data from a vast array of languages." (Artemis Alexiadou, Language)

This book is intended as an introduction to three things. Firstly, the fact that syntax should be carried out using a consistent set of theoretical assumptions. Secondly, as the title says, 'core' areas of syntax are covered. Finally, the methodology of theory formation is emphasised as well. Overall I would say that the book has accomplished these aims admirably. I have found this to be an excellent introduction to Minimalist Syntax, and to syntactic theorising in general. All the ideas are presented clearly. Something I found particularly good was the way examples are worked through in detail, with each instance of feature checking specified. Also, the exercises were well presented, with some particularly difficult areas such as binding dealt with clearly ... This is a high quality textbook, which I would certainly recommend. (Linguist List)

About the Author

David Adger is Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary, University of London. He is the co-editor of Specifiers: Minimalist Perspective (OUP, 1999) and publishes widely in syntax and semantics. He is co-general editor of the series Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good text book 2 Oct 2010
A great companion for a 2nd year linguistics degree. Information is clear and concise and it is easy to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Useful 12 Feb 2012
This is a very useful book for those studying Syntax, whilst it might seem a bit expensive it is worth the money as Adger explains the topics in an easy to understand way and the exercises are very helpful when it comes to learning each topic.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The best MP textbook available 9 Aug 2011
Having worked with all major textbooks on MP, I have to admit that David Adger's textbook is the best. Clear explanations, suggested books for further reading, interesting exercises - all this makes it truly exceptional. It does contain some typos but you can easily find them on the author's website.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By ling82
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is typical of the more "advanced" literature on theoretical syntax - it's full of acronyms where a simple English word would suffice for what are in fact simple concepts if you get beyond the incessant jargon. Please can syntacticians stop thinking using Greek letters sounds cool. It doesn't. The book is certainly not "core syntax", and it is certainly not for beginners - not because the syntactic phenomena it does cover are inherently difficult, but because its is only more advanced students who would ever be able to realise "oh he's talking about THAT when he says the theta-criterion EPP little v movement Merge whatever matrix theory". Please. If this is Minimalism, then Minimalism is just another way of saying the SAME THINGS but using different Greek letters and a different type of tree diagram. If this gets you salivating then go ahead and buy this book and keep people in their "jobs". If not, don't.
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8 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How the Glint of Grammar Enchanted Syntax ... 2 Mar 2005
By Edward
David Adger is a clever man. He manages to justify the unjustifiable and engender creativity at the same time in this book. The thread of his book that deals with the creation of theory and that encourages and facilitates students in forming their own theories is an ingredient in the Greatest Possible Textbook(GPT).

However, this may not be the Greatest Possible Textbook(GPT). Any writing which would be a candidate for Universal Greatness (UG) must be tested rigorously to determine whether it is truly great and whether its greatness is universal.

First, what is this book supposed to do? If we are to restrict ourselves to the title, it is supposed to be a minimalist approaching CORE SYNTAX, core syntax being emphasized. In other words it is supposed to use minimalism to lead the student to the core syntax. However, it seems to this reviewer that the Core of Adger's Syntax is his Minimalist Approach, which he must be constantly bending over backwards in order to maintain, much to the confusion of the student.

In contrast, the GPT which has gained sea-command over the good ship UG would not have such a strong procrustean feature [P*]. If the center of this book is MP rather than the phenomena of syntax as a whole, I recommend to any and every instructor that they supplement this text with other texts or photocopy chapters and distribute them.

David Adger is an honest man and a good writer. This leads me to believe that he is acting this book out for us in hopes that we will take note of the tragic flaws of Minimalist Theory. When we get into the more painful sections in which all we encounter is confusion and failure, I feel genuine compassion for Dr. Adger, but I do not lapse into sentimentality.
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