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Syntactic development, its input and output$
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Anat Ninio

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565962

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565962.001.0001

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Core syntactic relations

Core syntactic relations

(p.9) Chapter 1 Core syntactic relations
Syntactic development, its input and output

Anat Ninio

Oxford University Press

This chapter reviews the linguistic literature concerning syntactic atoms in two different types of linguistic theories: mainstream generative grammar and Construction Grammars. In the first approach, grammatical relations are defined as subtypes of the universal Merge operation of Chomsky's Minimalist Program or, alternately, of the Head-Dependent relation developed in Dependency Grammars (which is shown to be identical with the Merger operation). The grammatical relations subject-verb, verb-object, and verb-indirect objects constitute the clausal core. The motivation for positing such formal syntactic relations in linguistics derives from the fact that they are defined solely by their coding properties and grammatical behaviour but dissociated from particular semantic roles. This defines core grammatical relations as purely formal components of the structure of clause, whose semantics is a lexical property of individual verbs. Alternative conceptions of syntactic units under Construction Grammars are then discussed, in particular the claim that grammatical relations are in fact meaningful linguistic signs, constituting abstract ‘argument structure constructions’ that possess uniform or at the least prototypical meaning.

Keywords:   syntax, generative grammar, Construction Grammar, grammatical relations, argument structure constructions

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