15.3455, Review: Syntax/Ling Theories: Radford (2004)

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LINGUIST List: Vol-15-3455. Fri Dec 10 2004. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 15.3455, Review: Syntax/Ling Theories: Radford (2004)                                                                                                                                                                    

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Date: 09-Dec-2004
From: Jonathan White < jwh at du.se >
Subject: English Syntax: An Introduction 

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2004 01:48:13
From: Jonathan White < jwh at du.se >
Subject: English Syntax: An Introduction 

AUTHOR: Radford, Andrew 
TITLE: English Syntax 
SUBTITLE: An Introduction 
YEAR: 2004 
PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press
Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-1885.html

Jonathan White Högskolan Dalarna, Falun, Sweden


This book aims to introduce recent insights in syntactic theory, and 
specifically in Chomsky's (1993, 1995, and other works) Minimalist 
Program. It also is intended to describe a range of phenomena in English 
syntax without using too much technical terminology. The material is taken 
in large part from Radford's (1997) previous introduction to Minimalist 

Chapter 1: Grammar 
The first chapter takes a general look at Chomsky's theory as compared to 
traditional approaches. It presents the idea of Universal Grammar, the 
difference between competence and performance and different levels of 
adequacy that lie behind theory construction. Radford also presents the 
theoretical model of the Minimalist program, where items from the lexicon 
enter the syntactic component, a syntactic structure is derived, and we end 
up at the interface levels of Phonetic Form (PF) and the semantic component 
of Logical Form (LF). Evidence for Universal Grammar from child language 
acquisition is then presented. Some sample principles and parameters are 
sketched out, and finally the process of parameter setting that underlies the 
acquisition process is discussed.

Chapter 2: Words 
In this chapter, the grammatical properties of words are discussed. Criteria 
for membership of different word-classes are presented. The difference 
between lexical and functional categories is dealt with, and then Radford 
focuses on the properties of a number of functional categories: 
determiners, quantifiers, pronouns, auxiliaries, the infinitival marker "to", 
and finally complementizers. The idea of syntactic structure is introduced 
through labelled bracketing. Finally different types of grammatical features 
are presented: categorial and selectional.

Chapter 3: Structure 
Chapter 3 deals in more detail with syntactic structure. The idea of the 
phrase and related terminology such head, projection and complement as 
well as tests for the different types of phrases are presented. Clauses as 
projections of tense and mood properties are explained. Syntactic relations 
like sister, etc. are set out, including c-command, and an introduction to 
binding is given. Finally bare phrase structure based on proposals by 
Chomsky (1994, 1995) is briefly presented.

Chapter 4: Null constituents 
Null constituents of various kinds are dealt with in chapter 4. Null subjects 
are the first to be covered, both the PRO present in non-finite clauses in 
English, and the pro in finite clauses in null subject languages like Italian 
and Spanish. Evidence for PRO is given based on anaphor binding. Then 
Radford turns to the obligatory presence of tense even when there is no 
auxiliary verb. The idea that the finite verb and tense must join up by PF is 
presented. Cases where there is either no tense and/or no complementizer 
are dealt with. Defective Exceptional Case-marking (ECM) clauses and small 
clauses are presented as well. Case-marking is briefly dealt with. Finally null 
determiners in Noun Phrases are explained.

Chapter 5: Head movement 
This chapter deals with different head-movement processes. Firstly, 
movement of auxiliaries to C in questions is presented. This is explained 
using strong features. Copy theory of movement is presented as well. 
Movement of the main verb to T is also dealt with, and the successive-cyclic 
nature of movement is explained. The cases of HAVE and BE in English are 
considered, and also do-support. To end with, Radford looks at head-
movement in nominals.

Chapter 6: Wh-movement 
A similar copy theory of wh-movement is presented in this next chapter. 
The trigger behind this movement is dealt with, and the idea of locality in 
the form of the Attract Closest Principle. The possibility of pied-piping extra 
material is discussed in various contexts. Wh-movement in exclamatives 
and relative clauses is covered, and also island constraints.

Chapter 7: A-movement 
The discussion begins with the VP-internal subject hypothesis. Radford 
uses some interesting data from Belfast English to illustrate this. Theta 
theory is also presented as evidence for the hypothesis. Unaccusative, 
passive and raising predicates are all covered. Finally the difference 
between raising and control predicates is discussed.

Chapter 8: Agreement, case and movement 
Agreement is explained using Chomsky's (1998, 1999, 2001) ideas about 
probes (features that need to be checked) and goals (the elements that 
check these features). Feature matrices and the interpretability of these 
features are discussed. The specific cases of the expletive subjects, "it" 
and "there", are presented, and how they get agreement features. Finally the 
role of agreement and the Extended Projection Principle (EPP) in movement 
is discussed.

Chapter 9: Split projections 
The simple clause structure assumed so far with CP, TP and VP is dealt with 
in this penultimate chapter. Evidence is presented which suggests that CP 
should be split into Force, Topic and Focus projections. Similar proposals 
for TP, where an extra Finiteness projection may be needed, and for VP, 
with the vP shell are dealt with. The VP shell idea is extended to, for 
example, unaccusatives and passive and raising predicates.

Chapter 10: Phases 
In this final chapter, Radford presents Chomsky's (1999, 2001) idea of 
phases. The Phase Penetrability Condition is covered, which entails basically 
that only material at the left edge of a phase is available to further 
movement, and how successive-cyclic movement can be allowed under such 
assumptions. Wh-movement through vP and CP phases is focused on in 


This book is presented as a textbook for people who have minimal 
grammatical knowledge and who want to study English syntax, and for 
those already with some knowledge of syntax and who want to know about 
the Minimalist program. It is an abridged version of a longer work 
(Minimalist Syntax), and is aimed for those taking syntax as a minor course 
rather than as a major. Not having read the longer version, I cannot 
comment on differences between the two versions.

Overall my impression is a positive one. The book presents the issues in a 
clear, concise way. The exercises in particular are well presented with good 
hints. One comment I can make is that I would have liked to have the 
answers in a separate section at the end of the book. Students might well be 
too tempted to look at the answers before making a real attempt at the 
exercises on their own.

The step-by-step derivation of trees is a particular plus where each 
instance of feature checking is presented. A very wide range of phenomena 
in English syntax is dealt with, and so I feel that this book really lives up to 
its aim of providing an analysis of a wide range of data in English.

I would certainly recommend this as the main textbook on any course, not 
just on a minor course in syntax.


Chomsky, Noam (1993) A minimalist program for linguistic theory. In The 
view from Building 20. Hale, Kenneth and Keyser, Samuel J. (eds.). 
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 1-52.

Chomsky, Noam (1994) Bare phrase structure. MIT Occasional Papers in 
Linguistics 5.

Chomsky, Noam (1995) Categories and transformations. In Chomsky, Noam 
(ed.) The Minimalist Program. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 219-394. 

Chomsky, Noam (1998) Minimalist inquiries: the framework. Reprinted in 
Step by step: Essays in minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik. Martin, 
Micheals and Uriagereka (eds.). (2000) Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. 89-

Chomsky, Noam (1999) Derivation by phase. MIT Occasional Papers in 
Linguistics 18.

Chomsky, Noam (2001) Beyond explanatory adequacy. Ms. MIT.

Radford, Andrew (1997) Syntactic theory and the structure of English. 
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 


The reviewer's research interests include phrase structure, syntax and 
semantics of adverbials, interfaces between syntax and semantics and 
between syntax and morphology.

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