Some puzzling foundational issues: The reading program

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38 Scopus citations


This is an annotated transcription of Noam Chomsky's keynote presentation at the University of Reading, in May 2017. Here, Chomsky reviews some foundational aspects of the theory of structure building: essentially, Merge and Label. The aim is to eliminate what he refers to as extensions of Merge which are seemingly incompatible with the Strong Minimalist Thesis while still accounting for recursive structure, displacement, and reconstruction (as the main empirical goals of the Minimalist Program). These include sidewards movement, multi-dominance, and late-Merge; all of which have been developed throughout the life cycle of transformational generative grammar. Furthermore, Chomsky formulates a series of conditions that an adequate formulation of Merge must meet, and sketches how the aforementioned extensions may violate these conditions. Chomsky arrives at a formulation of an operation MERGE, which maintains the core properties of Merge but is further restricted by limitations over what MERGE can do to the workspaces where syntactic operations apply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-285
Number of pages23
JournalCatalan Journal of Linguistics
StatePublished - 2019


  • Recursion
  • Strong minimalist thesis
  • Workspaces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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