• Syntax in performance: minimalist derivation in the late assignment of syntax theory

      O'Bryan, Erin L.; University of Arizona (University of Arizona Linguistics Circle (Tucson, Arizona), 2001)
      This paper presents an account of how Minimalist derivation (Chomsky 1995) can be embedded in a comprehension model, the Late Assignment of Syntax Theory (LAST) (Townsend & Bever, 2001). The issues addressed concern the interface between the first step of the model, in which heuristic strategies apply to the utterance, and the second step, Minimalist derivation. Two questions about the interface are addressed: 1) How are features in the numeration needed to begin a Minimalist derivation chosen? 2) What dictates which units Merge in the derivation? Chomsky (1995:226-227) claims that we do not need to ask either question. I review his reasons and argue that we can and should answer these questions in a workable comprehension model. In response to the first question, I demonstrate that heuristic strategies applied to the utterance determine which features enter the numeration. In response to the second question, I discuss how heuristic strategies combined with lexical information determine which items Merge.