Modularity in Syntax

From Current Studies in Linguistics

Modularity in Syntax

A Study of Japanese and English

By Ann K. Farmer





This book clarifies some of the central issues in Japanese syntax, pointing the way to solving several long-standing problems. It presents an alternative to the Standard Theory, a model which has dominated Japanese linguistics for a number of years.

Following the study of the syntactic and lexical levels of representation in Japanese, the book brings the same theoretical perspective to bear on English. Although Japanese, a so-called nonconfigurational language, is typologically far removed from Indo-European languages, Farmer shows that Modular Grammar, which was primarily developed to account for an "exotic" language, yields insights into English as well, In particular, she examines the status of pronouns and anaphors. Aspects of Government Binding theory are adapted for both Japanese and English, providing significant evidence that still-evolving theories have wide and possibly universal validity.

Modularity in Syntax concludes by comparing Japanese and English, speculating on the extent to which the typological differences between them are a function of the nature of the rules and principles that mediate between the syntax and the lexical structure of the two languages.

This book is the ninth in the series, Current Studies in Linguistics, edited by Samuel Jay Keyser.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262060875 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262561723 256 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Ann Farmer's Modularity in Syntax develops a comprehensive approach to a variety of topics that have been central to recent investigations in the theory of language. She shows how many problems of English and Japanese grammar received natural solutions within her modular theory, including questions of predicate-argument structure, configurationality, anaphora, control, and others. The result is a substantial contribution to linguistic theory, offering an important and in many ways novel perspective that merits careful study.

    Noam Chomsky

    Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT

  • ...a fresh and highly plausible analysis of certain facts of Japanese grammar which have long been a problem, and have been much discussed, in Japanese important contribution to the necessary program of confronting current linguistic theory with the typological variety of the world's languages.

    Kenneth Hale

  • Modularity in Syntax presents an important and thought-provoking grammatical account of English and Japanese wherein the postulation of modular pragmatics allows the anaphora issues in these two divergent languages to be treated uniformly in a remarkably natural and revealing manner. This book clearly points to a direction into which future research in linguistics may profitably explore.

    Chisato Kitagawa

    Department of Oriental Studies, University of Arizona