City University of Hong Kong Dep
Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Dissecting the Minimalist Program
Prof. Yafei Li
Professor of Linguistics
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Date: 1 April 2009, Wednesday
Time: 4:30 – 6:00pm
Venue: B7603 (Lift 3, 7/F, Blue Zone), Academic Building, CityU
Conceptually, the Minimalist Program consists of three parts:
(1) Language- specific mechanisms are more costly (and thus less favored) than those in UG; (2) local operations are favored over non-local ones; and (3) the overall design of UG is based on "logical necessity", utilizing an minimum amount of apparatuses to link semantics and phonology. This talk will evaluate the empirical and theoretical validity of each part with concrete examples, arguing that (1) deserves more attention than has been given, the specific implementation of (2) has a dubious status, and (3) is not an "advancement" in our understanding of language but rather the correction of a major weakness characteristic of the government-and-binding model: too many artifacts in the theory that have unclear empirical bases.
Yafei Li, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received his PhD in 1990 from MIT, specializing in syntax and the syntax- morphology interface. He has two books, one from the MIT Press in 2005 and the other, coauthored, to appear from the Cambridge University Press soon. Li has published in all major journals of theoretical and Chinese linguistics, including Language, LI, NLLT, The Linguistic Review, JEAL, and 《中国语文》.
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