The complexity of Narrow Syntax:
minimalism, representational economy, and simplest Merge

description Andreas Trotzke and Jan-Wouter Zwart. 2014. The complexity of Narrow Syntax: minimalism, representational economy, and simplest Merge. In Frederick J. Newmeyer and Laurel B. Preston, eds., Measuring grammatical complexity, 128-147. Oxford: Oxford University Press
type Reviewed book chapter.
ID 2014c | 153 | DOI | first version March 6, 2013; revised April 25, 2013; final version June 17, 2013
origin This article had its origin in Trotzke's paper 'Derivational layering and the syntax-discourse interface: some evidence from CED effects', presented March 23, 2012, at the Formal linguistics and the measurement of grammatical complexity conference, Seattle. I was then invited by Trotzke to collaborate on the written version of the paper, in view of the significance of the layered derivation hypothesis for the paper. This collaboration led to some interesting new ideas on the problem of creating idioms 'on the fly'.
keywords complexity, layered derivations, discourse, idioms, finite-state grammar, recursion
summary This paper considers the question of formal complexity measurement within linguistic minimalism and argues that information structure properties should not be encoded in narrow syntax as features triggering movement, suggesting that the relevant information is established at the interfaces. Also, it argues for a minimalist model of grammar in which complexity arises out of the cyclic interaction of subderivations. This model allows one to rephrase the question of the formal complexity of a generative grammar, such that a different answer is forthcoming depending on whether we consider the grammar as a whole, or just narrow syntax. The grammar as a whole, including interface components in addition to narrow syntax, as well as recursive interaction among subderivations, is vastly more complicated than a finite-state grammar, but there is no reason for concluding that narrow syntax is not simply finite-state.
related full text
Presentations: Trotzke's paper, 03/2012