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Cover

Gradient Acceptability and Linguistic Theory

Elaine J. Francis

December 2021

ISBN: 9780192898944

304 pages
Hardback
246x171mm

Oxford Surveys in Syntax & Morphology

Price: £75.00

This volume examines the interpretation of gradient judgments of sentence acceptability in relation to theories of grammatical knowledge. It uses experimental and corpus-based research, along with a range of case studies, to argue for a new approach to this crucial problem.

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Description

This volume examines the interpretation of gradient judgments of sentence acceptability in relation to theories of grammatical knowledge. It uses experimental and corpus-based research, along with a range of case studies, to argue for a new approach to this crucial problem.

  • Takes into account a range of theoretical approaches, including Minimalism, Sign-based Construction Grammar, Optimality Theory, and Cognitive Construction Grammar
  • Written in an accessible style that assumes no background in experimental methods and only a basic background in syntactic theory
  • Includes a glossary of key technical terms

About the Author(s)

Elaine J. Francis, Professor, Department of English, Purdue University

Elaine J. Francis is a professor in the Department of English at Purdue University, where she has been teaching linguistics and directing the Experimental Linguistics Lab since 2003. She completed her PhD in linguistics at the University of Chicago in 1999 and taught for three years in the Department of English at the University of Hong Kong. In her research, she investigates syntactic, discourse, and processing-based factors that affect the realization of syntactic alternations in English and Cantonese.

Table of Contents

    General preface
    Acknowledgments
    List of figures
    List of abbreviations
    1:The problem of gradient acceptability
    2:Theories of grammatical knowledge in relation to formal syntactic and non-syntactic explanations
    3:On distinguishing formal syntactic constraints from other aspects of linguistic knowledge
    4:On distinguishing formal syntactic constraints from processing constraints
    5:On the relationship between corpus frequency and acceptability
    6:Relative clause extraposition and PP extraposition in English and German
    7:Resumptive pronouns in Hebrew, English, and Cantonese relative clauses
    8:Gradient acceptability, methodological diversity, and theoretical interpretation
    Glossary
    References
    Index

Reviews

"Francis tackles head-on deep methodological questions about the nature of linguistic data, and shows that modern linguistic research demands a more systematic exploration of variation and gradient acceptability; one that takes non-syntactic factors into account, uses converging evidence from alternative data sources, and re-assesses its own theory-internal assumptions. In the process, Francis uncovers compelling evidence that some forms of gradience call for non-categorical grammatical constraints ('soft constraints'), which cannot be reduced to non-syntactic factors nor categorical grammar constraints." - Rui P. Chaves, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York

"Elaine Francis' book is compelling reading as it addresses a complex topic with fundamental relevance to all grammatical descriptions and theories. Francis makes a convincing case for gradience in grammar and for a multi-methodological approach to assessing language data. It is a comprehensive and principled synthesis of the literature enriched by the author's own research." - Edith Moravcsik, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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