Linguistics 614
Alternative Syntactic Theories
Spring 2015

Course goals This course covers non-derivational theories of syntax that have focused on developing precisely formulated grammars whose empirical predictions can be directly tested. We will briefly cover a number of different grammatical frameworks, including varieties of dependency grammar (DG), tree-adjoining grammar (TAG), lexical-funcational grammar (LFG), and Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). After a survey of each of these, we will delve more deeply into the framework of combinatory categorial grammar (CCG)

The CCG portion of the course will be treated essentially like a seminar. We will read recent papers which examine both theoretical and computational aspects of CCG. This will include, on the one hand, topics such as the structure of the lexicon and the relation of syntax to semantics and information structure, and, on the other hand, methods for CCG supertagging, wide-coverage CCG parsing, CCG semantic analysis, and CCG corpora. The exact material will depend to some extent upon the interests of the participants.

At the end of the course, students should be able to analyze linguistic data in a number of ways, read syntactic literature from a variety of viewpoints, and understand how these formalisms, especially CCG, lend themselves well to computational needs.

Meeting time: TR, 11:15am–12:30pm

Classroom: Sycamore Hall (SY) 212

Course website:

Credits: 3

Course prerequisites: L543 or L545 is recommended

Instructor: Markus Dickinson

Office: Memorial Hall (MM) 317

Phone: (812) 856-2535

E-mail: (remove the tasty item)

Office hours: (at least for the first week)

R 1pm
or by appointment

Readings: For the first 5 weeks, we will use a variety of readings (available online) to provide background material for the lectures, and then we will switch to other articles, as determined by interest.

This is the current, tentative list of articles:

We’ll select other readings later in the semester, depending on people’s interests; see section on Presentations below.

Course requirements:

Academic Integrity: (from the Dean for Academic Standards and Opportunities)

Academic Integrity: As a student at IU, you are expected to adhere to the standards and policies detailed in the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct ( When you submit an assignment with your name on it, you are signifying that the work contained therein is all yours, unless otherwise cited or referenced. Any ideas or materials taken from another source for either written or oral use must be fully acknowledged. If you are unsure about the expectations for completing an assignment or taking a test or exam, be sure to seek clarification beforehand. All suspected violations of the Code will be handled according to University policies. Sanctions for academic misconduct may include a failing grade on the assignment, reduction in your final course grade, a failing grade in the course, among other possibilities, and must include a report to the Dean of Students who may impose additional disciplinary sanctions.

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;


MonthDateTopic Reading Assignments

Jan. 13Intro to class (pdf, 2x3.pdf)
15Basic syntactic constructions (pdf, 2x3.pdf)

20Basic syntactic constructions (symbol handout: .pdf)
22Dependency Grammar (DG) (pdf, 2x3.pdf, 1x3.pdf) RB

27Dependency Grammar (DG) JN, pp. 1–12
29Tree-Adjoining Grammar (TAG) (pdf, 2x3.pdf, 1x3.pdf) A&R

Feb. 3TAG HW1 due
5Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG) (pdf, 2x3.pdf, 1x3.pdf) AC1

12LFG HW2 due

17Head-driven PSG (HPSG) (pdf, 2x3.pdf, 1x3.pdf) AC2

24CCG background: lambda calculus (see these slides) HW3 due
26Combinatory Categorial Grammar (CCG) (pdf, 2x3.pdf, 1x3.pdf)S&B

Mar. 3CCG overview
5CCG linguistic issues TBA

10CCG linguistic issues TBA
12CCG linguistic issues TBA HW4 due

17No class, Spring Break
19No class, Spring Break

24CCG linguistic issues TBA
26CCG linguistic issues TBA

31CCG linguistic issues TBA
Apr. 2CCG linguistic issues TBA

7OpenCCG (handout)
9CCG computational issues TBA

14CCG computational issues TBA HW5 due
16CCG computational issues TBA

21CCG computational issues TBA
23CCG computational issues TBA

28CCG computational issues TBA
30CCG computational issues TBA

May 7Projects due (Thursday), 5pm

Disclaimer This syllabus is subject to change. All important changes will be made in writing, with ample time for adjustment.

Other resources For one’s own knowledge, here are some recommended books for comparing different frameworks:

And books for more on individual frameworks:

Conference websites & other helpful meta-sites:

Automatic tools for grammar-writing:

Finally, if you’re relatively new to syntax, references outlining the phenomena might help, e.g.: