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Linguistics Colloquium Series: Norbert Hornstein - The Triumph of Minimalism

When: Friday, October 12, 2018
3:30 PM - 5:30 PM Central

Where: Chambers Hall, 600 Foster St, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Talant Abdykairov   (847) 467-3384

Group: Linguistics Department

Category: Academic


Many regard the Minimalist Program (MP) as a failure. I don’t. In this talk I will rehearse some of its central achievements and explain how, when taken on its own terms, MP has been a raging success. The talk has several parts. First, it locates MP within the wider generative grammar (GG) program. I argue that MP makes little sense except in a cognitive (i.e. Chomskyan) interpretation of linguistics. Furthermore, the MP problematic starts from the presupposition that GG has identified a bunch of universals that (more or less) accurately limn the contours of the Faculty of Language (FL). The central MP question builds on this supposition and asks the following: why does FL have the properties it does? Understanding that this is the core question of MP leads to a diagnosis for the apparent disappointment that many have felt: If one either takes the object of linguistic study to be something other than FL or does not think that the prior 60 years of work in GG has discovered much about the contours of FL, MP will seem either irrelevant or premature. This lies behind much of the disappointment with MP work.

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