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This book combines ideas about the architecture of grammar and language acquisition, processing, and change to explain why languages show regular patterns when there is so much irregularity in their use and so much complexity when there is such regularity in linguistic phenomena. Peter Culicover argues that the structure of language can be understood and explained in terms of two kinds of complexity: firstly that of the correspondence between form and meaning; secondly in the real-time processes involved in the construction of meanings in linguistic expressions. Mainstream generative theory is based on inherent linguistic competence and on the regularities within and across languages, with the exceptional aspects of any language frequently put to one side. But a language's irregular and unique features offer, the author argues, fundamental insights into both the nature of language and the way it is produced and understood. Peter Culicover's new book offers a pertinent and original contribution to key current debates in linguistic theory. It will interest scholars and advanced students of linguists of all theoretical persuasions.
Peter W. Culicover is Humanities Distinguished Professor in Linguistics and the founding Director of the Center for Cognitive Science at the Ohio State University. His publications include Formal Principles of Language Acquisition co-authored with Kenneth Wexler (MIT 1983), Principles and Parameters (OUP 1997), Syntactic Nuts (OUP 1999), Dynamical Syntax co-authored with Andrzej Nowak (OUP 2003), Simpler Syntax co-authored with Ray Jackendoff (OUP 2005), and Natural Language Syntax (OUP 2009).
Table of Contents
Part I: Theoretical Background
1. Varieties of Grammatical Complexity
2. The Architecture of Constructions
Part II: English Constructions
3. English Relatives
4. Constructions and the Notion 'Possible Human Language'
Part III: Processing Complexity and Grammar
5. Reflexes of Processing Complexity
Part IV: Acquisition, Change, and Variation
6. Explaining Complexity: The learner in the network
7. Constructional Complexity and Change
8. Integrating Constructions, Complexity, and Change