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Explorations of Phase Theory: Interpretation at the Interfaces

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 26.02.2009
  • Verlag: De Gruyter
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Explorations of Phase Theory: Interpretation at the Interfaces

This volume investigates interface interpretation within Phase Theory, the current stage of syntactic theorizing within the 'Minimalist Program,' the generative research enterprise instigated by Noam Chomsky over 15 years ago. The collection brings together scholars who address architectural, conceptual, and interpretive issues in the grammar. In their investigations of the interpretive interfaces, Logical Form and Phonetic Form, the chapters provide novel analyses for both new and well-known facts, address theoretical issues for Phase Theory, and contribute insights from phonology and semantics.
Kleanthes K. Grohmann , University of Cyprus, Cyprus.


    Format: PDF
    Kopierschutz: watermark
    Seitenzahl: 282
    Erscheinungsdatum: 26.02.2009
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9783110213959
    Verlag: De Gruyter
    Größe: 2055kBytes
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Explorations of Phase Theory: Interpretation at the Interfaces

Dynamic economy of derivation (S. 211-212)

Takashi Toyoshima

1. Introduction

Since the onset of generative grammar (Chomsky 1951, 1955), a kind of economy notions has been in the theoretical considerations as an evaluation metric for the choice among competing grammars, namely, the Simplicity Measure. As the theory has advanced, the original simplicity measure short lived, but it has also become increasingly clear that some kind of economy plays a significant role in the fundamental properties of language.

Perhaps, the first explicit endeavor that put economy considerations into the research agenda is Chomsky (1992). There, the Least Effort Principle was suggested, unifying the two types of economy conditions, Economy of Derivation and Economy of Representation. Since then, the issue of economy has been a lively topic of research, and it crystallized in the Minimalist Program initiated in Chomsky (1993), in which linguistic expressions are taken to be nothing more than "optimal" realizations of interface conditions imposed from the external systems (Economy of Representation), and those linguistic expressions are generated in an "optimal" way (Economy of Derivation). One of the issues that have been hotly debated in the Minimalist Program is the nature of economy conditions, whether they can be "global" or should be "local" (Collins 1997, Johnson &, Lappin 1997, 1999, Nakamura 1997, Yang 1997, among others).

The Shortest Derivation Condition as informally stated in Chomsky (1992) is a "global" condition, in the sense that it requires a comparison of all the derivations that are completed (trans-derivational comparison, Groat &, O'Neil 1996, among others). The Procrastinate Principle proposed in Chomsky (1993) is also "global", as it "looks ahead" to determine whether or not a particular application of overt operations at a given point in a derivation would lead to convergence at the interfaces, potentially ending up with comparison of all the derivations that are completed, as well as the ones that are terminated in crash.

They entailed a computational complexity of combinatorial explosion, and it has been commonly assumed that "look-ahead" is to be avoided in the formulation of derivational economy. Yet, it has not been made clear as to what the computational complexity is in the minimalist syntax, not to mention how it is to be measured. It has become a buzzword that appears in numerous works, claiming that their proposals reduce it, but without making explicit what they mean by computational complexity and how it is reduced. In this paper, I will attempt to frame the issue of computational complexity of the minimalist syntax into the theory of computational complexity developed in mathematics and information science.

Although human syntactic computation may turn out to require a distinct notion of complexity, it is certainly desirable if the complexity of human syntactic computation can be made amenable to such a mathematical theory of computational complexity, as the latter is not domain- specific. I believe that it is useful to formulate economy conditions of the minimalist syntax in terms of the mathematical theory of computational complexity, to make the preferential metric involved more explicit in comparing different proposals.

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