• Kyle Johnson
  • Ian Roberts
Part of the Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory book series (SNLT, volume 45)


An important chapter in the history of syntactic theory opened as the 70’s reached their close. The revolution that Chomsky had brought to linguistics had to this point engendered theories which remained within the grip of the philologists’ construction-based vision. Their image of language as a catalogue of independent constructions served as the backdrop against which much of transformational grammar’s detailed exploration evolved. In a sense, the highly successful pursuit of phonology and morphology in the 19th century as compared to the absence of similar results in syntax (beyond observations such as Wackernagel’s Law, etc.) attests to this: just noting that, for example, French relative clauses allow subject-postposing but not preposition-stranding while English relatives do not allow the former but do allow the latter does not take us far beyond a simple record of the facts. Prior to this point, syntactic theory had not progressed beyond the 19th century situation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyle Johnson
    • 1
  • Ian Roberts
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Massachusetts at AmherstUSA
  2. 2.University of StuttgartGermany

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