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Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory edited by Mark R. Baltin, Chris Collins (Blackwell Handbooks in Linguistics: Blackwell) provides a comprehensive view of the current issues in contemporary syntactic theory. Written by an international assembly of leading specialists in the field, the 23 original articles in this volume serve as a comprehensive and useful reference for various areas of grammar. The chapters`include analyses of non-configurational languages, a crosslinguistic comparison of important grammatical features that interface with semantics, discussions from the perspective of learnability theory, a discussion of thematic relations, and comparisons of derivational and representational approaches to grammar.

These cutting-edge articles, combined with the editors' informative introduction and an extensive bibliography, grant readers the greatest access to the field of natural language syntax today.

The goal of this Handbook is to provide an overview to researchers and students about the current state of research in syntax, a difficult but not impossible task because the field of syntax is not monolithic: there are schools of thought, and areas of disagreement, but there are also shared assumptions among many schools of thought.

The editors decided to follow the twin paths of ecumenicalism and comprehensiveness of empirical coverage by focussing on areas of grammar for our coverage, rather than particular frameworks,`of which there are several (Government Binding, Minimalism, Categorial Grammar, Lexical Functional Grammar, Head Driven Phrase Grammar). These approaches and indeed most of the chapters in this volume are written with a Minimalist/ GB orientation (but not all of them), it is hoped that the observations`and analyses could serve as a point of departure for investigators in other frameworks.

All syntactic theories recognize that syntax makes infinite use of finite means, but there is a fundamental distinction between theories as to how this is done. Some theories postulate a derivational approach, where struc­tures are built incrementally`by various operations (such as Merge and Move in the Minimalist Program). In other theories, structures are taken as given, and they are evaluated with respect to various conditions. The issue of deriva­tion versus representation has proved to be one of the most elusive and diffi­cult to settle in syntactic theory. Even researchers who otherwise adopt very similar sets of assumptions will differ as to whether they consider syntax to be derivational or representational.

In part I, Howard Lasnik shows that even within the assumptions of the Minimalist Program, it is often a subtle matter to determine if some condition should be stated derivationally or representationally. Chris Collins assumes a derivational theory and shows how many syntactic constraints can be viewed as economy conditions which guarantee that operations, derivations, and rep­resentations are minimal. Joan Bresnan assumes the representational frame­work of Optimality Theory syntax, and shows how various morphosyntactic facts can be given a natural treatment. Lastly, Luigi Rizzi's paper largely assumes a representational treatment of Relativized Minimality (as a condition on Logical Form), but makes some comparison to the derivational treatment of similar facts by Chomsky.

All theories assume that syntactic theory must account for dependencies of the kind in (2), where a constituent seems to be displaced from the position where it is interpreted. In part II, Ian Roberts takes up the issue of head move­ment of elements such as nouns and verbs. Akira Watanabe's chapter shows that the phenomenon of "wh-in-situ" is not a unitary phenomenon, with certain languages showing movement characteristics of question words that super­ficially remain in place, while other languages do not. This issue raises inter­esting learnability problems (for which see Janet Dean Fodor's chapter in part VI). Mark Baltin compares a`wide variety of theories which differ in their analysis of what, in Government Binding Theory/Minimalism, is treated as movement to argument positions (A-positions). Hoskuldur Thrainsson gives an overview of object shift and scrambling, and discusses how these movement types fit into the A/A' distinction.

In recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on reducing the role of a heavily specified primitive phrase-structure component. In part III, Jeffrey S. Gruber's chapter considers the nature of thematic relations, their expression in lexical representations, and the correct account of their linking with syntactic positions. John Bowers examines various theories of the syntactic expression of the predication relation and presents additional evidence for the existence of a Pred Phrase. Hiroyuki Ura's chapter discusses a universal theory of Case and the structural conditions for the realization of Case, arguing, within a principles and parameters approach, that Agr projections are not necessary for Case-checking (but see Adriana Belletti's chapter in part IV. for a different

point of view). Naoki Fukui's chapter shows what is meant by the idea that`phrase structure rules - the rules that generate initial syntactic structures - can be eliminated, and how the work that is done by phrase structure rules can be accommodated with other devices. Mark C. Baker argues that the source of apparent nonconfigurationality can differ in different languages. In Japanese, movement is the source of nonconfigurationality, while in Warlpiri, it is claimed that the apparent arguments are really adjuncts. Kyle Johnson's chapter con­siders the twin problems of VP-ellipsis: the characterization of the licensing environments and the nature of the elided VP. He argues that null VPs are not silent pro-forms.

An important thread in current formal syntactic research is the existence of non-lexical, or functional, categories. In part IV, Raffaella Zanuttini considers the cross-linguistic generalizations that can be made about the categorial sta­tus and syntactic position of negation. Adriana Belletti reviews the evidence for AGR projections, and concludes with some comments on the attempts by Chomsky (Chomsky 1995b: ch. 4) to dispense with Agr projections in favor of multiple specifiers of a v ("light verb") node. Two of the chapters in this part, Judy B. Bernstein's and Guiseppe Longobardi s, consider the evidence that nominals are in fact determiner phrases, as proposed by Abney and Brame. Adopting complementary evidence, they argue for additional structure within nominal phrases. Judy Bernstein explores the par­allels between nominal structure and clausal structure with respect to head movement. Giuseppe Longobardi argues for the existence of PRO within noun phrases, a position also argued for in Baltin.

The`next part deals with the interplay between syntactic structures and semantic phenomena, principally anaphora and the scope of logical operators. Anna Szabolcsi considers the role of syntactic structure in establishing the relative scope of logical operators, comparing various treatments of "inverse scope, in which a superficially less prominent logical operator takes scope over a more prominent one. Martin Everaert and`Eric Reuland discuss the role of syntactic structure in the determination of coreference, and the question of whether coreference is fully determined by the grammar. Andrew Barss's chapter deals with the optimal treatment of reconstruction, the phenomenon by which moved elements are interpreted as though they were in their pre­movement positions. He considers various analyses of the well-known asym­metry between moved predicative phrases and non-predicative phrases.

An important piece of the evidence in the evaluation of a grammar is its fit with domains which require the formulation of a grammar. In part VI, Anthony S. Kroch examines the way in which synchronic syntactic theory can inform and be informed by an account of possible syntactic change. Janet Fodor's paper explores the mechanisms by which children would have to be said to set the parameters of grammar variation that are posited by many linguistic theories.

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