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Nanosyntax: The basics

Chapter in book
Authors Lena Baunaz
Eric Lander
Published in Exploring Nanosyntax / Lena Baunaz, Karen De Clercq, Liliane Haegeman, Eric Lander (eds)
Pages 3-56
ISBN 9780190876753
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication New York
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 3-56
Language en
Keywords cartography, functional sequence, phrasal spellout, matching, syncretism
Subject categories Languages and Literature


This chapter offers a thorough introduction to nanosyntactic theory, a development of the cartographic program in generative grammar. It discusses the cartographic foundations on which nanosyntax was conceived, such as the ‘one feature – one head’ maxim and the universal functional sequence (fseq). It also provides a brief comparison of theoretical and terminological issues in nanosyntax vs. the competing framework of Distributed Morphology. It is seen that the syntactic component according to nanosyntax unifies aspects of (what are traditionally called) syntax, morphology, and formal semantics. This is reflected in the crucial tools used to probe linguistic structure in the nanosyntactic approach, such as morphological decomposition, syncretism, (semantic and morphological) containment, etc. The chapter also discusses the technical details of the syntax-lexicon relation, detailing the matching/spellout process and Starke’s view of spellout-driven movement. The chapter is meant to provide readers with the necessary background to understand and navigate the rest of the chapters in this volume.

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