Linguistics 310
Autumn 2009

Course goals

This course involves an examination of the methods and argumentation used in syntactic analysis, both from a general point of view and from the perspective of generative grammar. Emphasis is placed on analyzing language data, on constructing and evaluating syntactic argumentation, and, to some extent, on understanding the Principles & Parameters approach to the study of sentence structure, although I hope to expose you to a variety of ways to approach syntactic questions. Linguistic data will be drawn from English and many other languages. Grades are based on exams and frequent homework problems in syntactic analysis.

Some details

Meeting time: MWF, 9:05-9:55am
Classroom: Ballantine Hall (BH) 003
Credits: 3
Course prerequisites: L103, L303, or permission of instructor

Instructor: Markus Dickinson
Office: Memorial Hall (MM) 317
Phone: 856-2535
E-mail: md7 ...AT... (remove our neighbor state)

Office hours:
T 12-1pm
F 10-11am
  or by appointment


There will be one assignment every 1-2 weeks. These assignments give you the opportunity to work through language data and further explore the topics discussed in class.


There is a main required textbook we will use:

Some additional resources (posted on Oncourse as PDF/MS-Word files):


Grades will be based on:

PROBLEM SETS 40% (8@5% each)
FINAL 30%  


This course is structured like a lecture & lab course. After short and sometimes rather technical reading assignments are given in advance, in-class discussion will center on a brief lecture followed by working through problems together. Since these activities will be closely related with solving your take-home problem sets and taking in-class exams, regular attendance and participation are crucial to the success of the class.

Midterm & Final Exams

The two exams for this course will be comprehensive. They will be in-class exams, and the format will be similar to that of the problem sets. A review session will be offered for each exam.

Problem Sets

You will be given eight problem sets throughout the semester, which will count for 40% of the course grade. (Tentative) due dates of the problem sets are given in the Schedule below. A hardcopy version of the problem set must be handed in to me in the class when it is due. Unnotified/unjustified late problem sets and electronic versions will not be accepted. You are welcomed to consult with me before an assignment is due if you have any problem/question concerning the problem sets. You are also encouraged to work in groups as long as you write up your answers in your own words. Typing is preferred, though it is not required. If you handwrite, you need to make it legible.

Course administration:

For now, I plan on making the course notes/slides available on Oncourse, as well as problem sets and the additional readings. Look under Resources.

Academic Misconduct:

Academic misconduct is not allowed in this course. The Indiana University Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct ( defines academic misconduct as ``any activity that tends to undermine the academic integrity of the institution . . . Academic misconduct may involve human, hard-copy, or electronic resources . . . Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to . . . cheating, fabrication, plagiarism, interference, violation of course rules, and facilitating academic misconduct'' (II. G.1-6).

Students with Disabilities:

Students who need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me to arrange an appointment as soon as possible to discuss the course format, to anticipate needs, and to explore potential accommodations.

I rely on Disability Services for Students for assistance in verifying the need for accommodations and developing accommodation strategies. Students who have not previously contacted Disability Services are encouraged to do so (812-855-7578;

(Tentative) Schedule

Month Date Topic Readings Assignments
Week 1 Grammar & Grammaticality  
Aug. 31 Introduction    
Sep. 2 What is Syntax? AC, p. 3-14  
4 Grammar as Knowledge AC, p. 14-25  
Week 2 Building Blocks  
  7 Word classes AC, p. 37-47  
9 Grammatical categories AC, p. 47-50; Tallerman, p. 51-61  
11 Syntax of verbs AC, p. 50-54  
Week 3 Basic Phrase Structure 1  
  14 Rules & Trees AC, p. 63-74 PS #1 due
16 Rules & Trees AC, p. 74-80  
  18 Tutorial for Tree-Drawing AC, p. 81-86  
Week 4 Basic Phrase Structure 2  
  21 Structural ambiguity AC, p. 87-88  
  23 Headedness Tallerman, p. 95-106  
  25 Lexicalization Sag et al, p. 35-40 PS #2 due
Week 5 Basic Phrase Structure 3  
  28 Feature-based theories AC, p. 437-445  
  30 Constituency Tests AC, p. 88-91; Huang, p. 15-20  
Oct. 2 Geometry of Trees AC, p. 103-113  
Week 6 Phrase Structure & Anaphora (Binding Theory)  
  5 C-command AC, p. 113-117  
  7 Grammatical relations AC, p. 118-121  
  9 Anaphor & Antecedent AC, p. 135-138 PS #3 due
Week 7 Binding & X-bar Theory  
  12 Binding Principle A AC, p. 138-142  
  14 Binding Principles B&C AC, p. 142-144  
  16 Bar-level Projections AC, p. 153-160  
Week 8 Review & Midterm  
  19 Generalized X-bar Schema AC, p. 160-163 PS #4 due
  21 Review session    
  23 MIDTERM   Midterm
Week 9 X-bar Theory  
  26 Complements vs. Adjuncts AC, p. 163-173; Radford, p. 175-196  
  28 Clause Types    
  30 Nominal phrases AC, p. 198-201  
Week 10 X-bar Theory  
Nov. 2 Verbal phrases AC, p. 201-206, 210-211  
  4 Sentential phrases AC, p. 206-209  
  6 Tutorial for tree-drawing AC, p. 177-187 PS #5 due
Week 11 Argument Structure & Case Theory  
  9 Thematic Relations AC, p. 219-226  
  11 Theta Criterion AC, p. 219-226  
  13 Case Theory AC, p. 295-300 PS #6 due
Week 12 Passives  
  16 Passives AC, p. 291-294, 302-304  
18 Passive tutorial Borsley, p. 135-148  
  20 Raising & control Borsley, p. 157-159  
Week 13 Raising & control constructions  
  23 Raising & control 2 AC, p. 285-291, 300-302 PS #7 due
  25 NO CLASS: Thanksgiving    
  27 NO CLASS: Thanksgiving    
Week 14 Unbounded dependency constructions (UDCs)  
  30 Wh-questions AC, p. 317-333; Huang, p. 118-123  
Dec. 2 Topicalization Huang, p. 123; Radford, p. 530-533  
  4 Relative clauses Huang, p. 124-126; Radford, p. 490-492 PS #8 due
Week 13 UDCs  
  7 Monostratal approach Borsley, p. 193-197  
  9 Tutorial on UDCs    
  11 Review session    
  14 Final, 8-10am   Final


This syllabus is subject to change. In fact, it probably will change, but all important changes will be in writing.