AuthorMedeiros, David P.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Dept Linguist
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherFRONTIERS MEDIA SA
CitationULTRA: Universal Grammar as a Universal Parser 2018, 9 Frontiers in Psychology
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Rights© 2018 Medeiros. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
AbstractA central concern of generative grammar is the relationship between hierarchy and word order, traditionally understood as two dimensions of a single syntactic representation. A related concern is directionality in the grammar. Traditional approaches posit process-neutral grammars, embodying knowledge of language, put to use with infinite facility both for production and comprehension. This has crystallized in the view of Merge as the central property of syntax, perhaps its only novel feature. A growing number of approaches explore grammars with different directionalities, often with more direct connections to performance mechanisms. This paper describes a novel model of universal grammar as a one-directional, universal parser. Mismatch between word order and interpretation order is pervasive in comprehension; in the present model, word order is language-particular and interpretation order (i.e., hierarchy) is universal. These orders are not two dimensions of a unified abstract object (e.g., precedence and dominance in a single tree); rather, both are temporal sequences, and UG is an invariant real-time procedure (based on Knuth's stack-sorting algorithm) transforming word order into hierarchical order. This shift in perspective has several desirable consequences. It collapses linearization, displacement, and composition into a single performance process. The architecture provides a novel source of brackets (labeled unambiguously and without search), which are understood not as part-whole constituency relations, but as storage and retrieval routines in parsing. It also explains why neutral word order within single syntactic cycles avoids 213-like permutations. The model identifies cycles as extended projections of lexical heads, grounding the notion of phase. This is achieved with a universal processor, dispensing with parameters. The empirical focus is word order in noun phrases. This domain provides some of the clearest evidence for 213-avoidance as a cross-linguistic word order generalization. Importantly, recursive phrase structure "bottoms out" in noun phrases, which are typically a single cycle (though further cycles may be embedded, e.g., relative clauses). By contrast, a simple transitive clause plausibly involves two cycles (vP and CP), embedding further nominal cycles. In the present theory, recursion is fundamentally distinct from structure-building within a single cycle, and different word order restrictions might emerge in larger domains like clauses.
NoteOpen access journal.
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