Linguistics 310
Spring 2012

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 and on constructing and evaluating syntactic argumentation. Linguistic data will be drawn from English and many other languages, and over the course of the semester, we will try to construct a model of (a fragment of) English syntax. Assignments, in-class exercises, and exams are designed to help students obtain basic control of current syntactic theory and develop skills of syntactic argumentation.

Meeting time: MWF, 9:05-9:55am

Classroom: Woodburn Hall (WH) 005

Credits: 3

Course prerequisites: L103, L303, or permission of instructor

Instructor: Markus Dickinson

Office: Memorial Hall (MM) 317

Phone: 856-2535

E-mail: (remove the candy bar)

Office hours:

R 11am
or by appointment

Readings: There is a main required textbook we will use:

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

Note that some material will be presented and discussed only in class (alternate hypotheses to the readings, discussion on particular data sets, etc.)!

Grading: Grades will be based on:

Problem sets 42%(6@7% each)
Midterm 20%
Final 28%

Participation 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 six problem sets throughout the semester, which will count for 42% of the course grade. (Tentative) due dates of the problem sets are given in the Schedule below. Homework assignments are due by the beginning of each class (9:05am)—please hand in a hard copy to me. You are welcome to consult with me before an assignment is due if you have any problem/question concerning it. 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




Week 1
Grammar & Grammaticality
Jan. 9Introduction

11What is Syntax?

RL, units 1-2

13Grammar as Knowledge

Sobin, ch. 1

Week 2
Building Blocks
16No class, MLK Day

18Phrase structure Rules

RL, unit 3

20Rules & Trees


Week 3
Basic Phrase Structure 1
23Grammar construction

RL, units 4-5

25Syntax of verbs

RL, unit 5

PS #1 due

RL, unit 6

Week 4
Basic Phrase Structure 2
30Constituency tests

RL, unit 7; Huang, p. 15–20

Feb. 1Structural ambiguity


3Tutorial for Tree-Drawing

Week 5
Basic Phrase Structure 3

RL, unit 8

8Word classes

RL, unit 9

PS #2 due
10Grammatical categories

Tallerman, p. 51–61

Week 6
13Refining grammars

RL, unit 10

15Argument construction

RL, units 11-12


RL, unit 13

Week 7

RL, unit 14; Tallerman, p. 95–106


Sag et al, p. 35–40

PS #3 due
24Feature-based theories

Carnie, p. 437–445

Week 8
Review & Midterm
27Complements vs. Adjuncts

RL, unit 15

29Midterm review



Week 9
Complements & Adjuncts
5Complements vs. Adjuncts

RL, unit 16; Radford, p. 175–196


RL, unit 17


RL, unit 18

Week 9.5ish
Spring Break
12No class, Spring Break

14No class, Spring Break

16No class, Spring Break

Week 10
X-bar Theory
19Clause types


21Sentential phrases

RL, unit 19

23Verbal phrases

RL, unit 20

PS #4 due

Week 11
Raising & control
26Raising & control

RL, unit 21

28Raising & control

Borsley, p. 157–159

30NP structure

RL, unit 22

Week 12
X-bar Theory
Apr. 2X-bar theory

RL, unit 23

4Grammatical relations


6Anaphor & Antecedent


PS #5 due

Week 13
Binding & X-bar Theory
9Binding Principle A

Carnie, p. 138–142

11Binding Principles B&C

Carnie, p. 142–144


RL, unit 24; Huang, p. 118–123

Week 14

RL, unit 25; Huang, p. 118–123


Huang, p. 123; Radford, p. 530–533


RL, unit 26

PS #6 due

Week 15

RL, unit 27

25Monostratal approach

Borsley, p. 193–197

27Final review

Week 16
May 4Final, 8-10am


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