Publications: Prolegomenon to a Theory of Argument Structure

Alexis Nasr alexis.nasr at LINGUIST.JUSSIEU.FR
Thu Jan 2 11:43:59 UTC 2003

Prolegomenon to a Theory of Argument Structure
Ken Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser

This work is the culmination of an eighteen-year collaboration between
Ken Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser on the study of the syntax of lexical
items. It examines the hypothesis that the behavior of lexical items may
be explained in terms of a very small number of very simple principles.
In particular, a lexical item is assumed to project a syntactic
configuration defined over just two relations, complement and specifier,
where these configurations are constrained to preclude iteration and to
permit only binary branching. The work examines this hypothesis by
methodically looking at a variety of constructions in English and other

At the time of his death, Ken Hale was the Ferrari P. Ward Professor
Emeritus in Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Samuel Jay Keyser is the Peter de Florez Professor Emeritus in
Linguistics and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at MIT. He is editor
of the journal Linguistic Inquiry, the Linguistic Inquiry Monograph
Series, and the book series Current Studies in Linguistics (all MIT

"It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this profound and
far-reaching inquiry into lexical semantics and its consequences for the
structure of expressions, drawing on a remarkable range of empirical
materials that are explored in depth with penetrating insight.
Ambitious, controversial, highly original, and provocative, it is sure
to be a landmark in the study of language."
--Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of

"This book is an extraordinarily lucid presentation of Hale and Keyser's
insightful, and deservedly influential, approach to argument structure.
It is one more reminder of how much we will miss Ken Hale, but how
blessed we were to have him as long as we did."
--Howard Lasnik, Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland

6 x 9, 296 pp., paper ISBN 0-262-58214-7, cloth ISBN 0-262-08308-6

Linguistic Inquiry Monograph series

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