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Theoretical Linguistics

An Open Peer Review Journal

Editor-in-Chief: Krifka, Manfred

Ed. by Gärtner, Hans-Martin

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Carrots – perfect as vegetables, but please not as a main dish

Gisbert Fanselow1


Citation Information: Theoretical Linguistics. Volume 33, Issue 3, Pages 353–367, ISSN (Print) 0301-4428, ISSN (Print) 1613-4060, DOI: 10.1515/TL.2007.023, December 2007

Publication History

Published Online:


0. One of the merits of generative syntax is that it has broadened the data base for syntactic research in a very profound way. There was, e.g., little (if any) discussion of the role syntax plays for anaphoric and pronominal binding before generative syntax came into being, and there was little or no knowledge about restrictions on the placement of elements into the left periphery of clauses, such as the island constraints of Ross (1967) or the crossover phenomena (Postal 1971). The pertinent facts were simply not known before generative grammar. The debate concerning the configurationality of German in the eighties of the last century is a further case in point; it led to the discovery of a multitude of facts about German syntax. This rapid and deep expansion of the empirical base of syntax was due to at least two factors: first, only highly predictive theories such as generative syntax can guide scientists as to where to look for interesting data, and the full acceptance of native speaker judgments as linguistic evidence yields an easy way of (dis-)confirming model assumptions – which was particularly important in times of limited corpus sizes and the absence of effective methods for searching in corpora.

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