Tom Cornell

A Minimalist Grammar
for Deriving the Copy Language

Arbeitspapiere des SFB 340, Bericht Nr. 79 (1996), 20pp.
DVI (142kb); Postscript (590kb) 1-up; Postscript gzip-komprimiert (115kb) 1-up , 2-up.


In these notes we present a minimalist derivational system modeled largely on Stabler's (1996) formalization of (ideas from) Chomsky's (1995) Minimalist Program. Our intention is to show that an extremely tightly constrained version of this system can nonetheless include grammars which generate the language ww for w in {1,2}*. This language is known to be context-sensitive, and is the basis of the proofs in Huybregts (1984) and Shieber(1985) for the non-context-freeness of natural language. We focus here on an artificial language because it is possible to present a complete grammar which provably generates it. While the formalism is provably powerful enough to support grammars for (at least some) mildly context sensitive languages, it remains computationally attractive. In particular, its essentially linear use of lexical resources means that it should be decidable. This in turn may help to suggest ways to extend decidable grammar logics such as those presented in Rogers (1994) and Kracht (1995) beyond their current strictly context-free power without losing decidability.

Our concern here is mainly to isolate what we hope is the minimal apparatus necessary to derive strings in Lww in a Chomsky-style Merge & Move calculus. It turns out we will in fact need very little. As might be expected from the natural languages which exemplify Lww-like behavior, we will only need head-movement. So, a fortiori, we will not need successive cyclic movement. This means we can stay within the ``linear'' fragment: every movement operation consumes some resources, and no operation increases resources. We will also need only one type of feature, namely categorial features (surely the minimal minimalist feature!) and their checking counterpart, selectional features. This means we will essentially be working in a categorial grammar with movement.

Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft
University of Tuebingen
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