LIN 231: Advanced Syntax

Instructor Lecture Day/Time Lecture Hall Email Office Hours Office
Masoud Jasbi Tue + Thu 3:10-4:30pm Zoom Zoom


Week Month Date Topic Content Readings Assignments
1 Jan 5 Syntax: Theory vs. Data empirical foundations, constituency, part of speech, arguments vs. adjuncts, grammatical functions Textbook Ch. 1
Schutze (2011)
Ch. 1 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
2 12 Formal Languages Finite State Grammar, Phrase Structure Grammar, Transformational Grammar Textbook Ch. 2
Chomsky (1957)
Ch. 2 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
3 19 Government and Binding Theory the T-model, the X̄ Schema, theta criterion, case principle Textbook Ch. 3
Ding et al. (2017)
Frank & Christiansen (2018)
Ch. 3 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
4 26 Minimalist Grammar basic architecture, valence, feature checking, agreement, little-v, move, merge Textbook Ch. 4
Yang et al (2017)
Ch. 4 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
5 Feb 2 Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar Haed-feature convention, meta-rules, feature descriptions, Structure sharing, cyclic structures, unification Textbook Ch. 5+6 Ch. 5+6 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
Midterm Abstract
6 9 Lexical Functional Grammar constituent-structure, functional-structure, completeness and coherence in LFG Textbook Ch. 7 Ch. 7 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
7 16 Categorial Grammar rules, forward application, backward application, lambda calculus Textbook Ch. 8 Ch. 8 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
8 23 Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar Feature Structures, Head-Complement Schema, Linearization rules, Projection of head properties, Inheritance hierarchies and generalizations Textbook Ch. 9 Ch. 9 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
9 Mar 2 Construction Grammar Constructions and sub-constructions, the head-complement construction, variants of construction grammars Textbook Ch. 10
Goldberg (2003)
Ch. 10 Comprehension Questions and Exercises
10 9 Dependency Grammar nucleus and satellites, No-tangling principle, No-dangling principle, and Sentence-root principle Textbook Ch. 11
Nivre et al (2020)
Ch. 11 Comprehension Questions and Exercises

Textbook and Learning Tools

Textbook Grammatical Theory Tools Canvas, mainly for announcements and assignments (quizzes)
by Stefan Muller Piazza for (possibly anonymous) questions, comments, and discussions. Search for Lin 131: Introduction to Syntactic Theory when you sign in and enroll as a student.

Course Objectives

Objective Course Component
1 Introduce the foundations and status of current syntactic theories Readings, Lectures
4 Practice basic syntactic analysis and formal modeling Assignments
3 Introduce computational and psycholinguistic applications Readings, Lectures
4 Practice critical and scientific thinking Discussion Forum, Argument Maps, Final Paper


Critical Thinking 20% Discussion Forum 5% Post questions, response to questions, or comments about the week's readings on the Canvas Discussions Section. 10 discussions (1 per week) each 0.5%
Argument Maps 15% 2 argument maps on the following two papers: 1. Ding et al. (2017) 2. Frank & Christiansen (2018) Take a look at this introduction to argument maps and how we use them in this class.
Analytic Skills 40% Assignments 40% 10 weekly comprehension questions and exercises from the textbook each worth 4%
Research Skills 40%
Midterm Abstract 10% A two page abstract including the introduction, literature review, and sketch of the analysis or results for your final paper. Modeled like an abstract for a conference submission such as NELS or WCCFL.
Peer-review 5% Write a 1-page peer-review of a research proposal assigned to you. Read the golden rule for peer-reviews here or Brian Lucey's tips on writing peer-reviews.
Presentation 5% Prepare a 10 minute presentation of your research project. The last class will be dedicated to student presentations. Take a look at this guide to oral presentations.
Final Paper 20% A research paper (6-10 pages) similar to a conference proceedings paper.
Late Submission Late assignments will be graded as though they were not late, but then 5% of the grade earned will be deducted for each day the assignment is late, with a maximum penalty of 50%. All late work must be turned in by the Friday before your final exam. This policy can be waived if lateness is due to medical reasons or other special circumstances.
Submission Format Submit your assignments using Canvas. Files should be in PDF. Typed assignments should use Times New Roman (12pt), 1 inch margins, 1.5 line spacing. Handwritten assignments must follow similar margins and spacing and must be legible. If the answer cannot be determined due to illegibility, no points are assigned to that answer. Do not include your name or any identifying information in the assignment. In order to avoid grading biases, assignments are graded anonymously.
Grading We use the following grading scale:
A = 100-94, A- = 94-90, B+ = 90-87, B = 87-84, B- = 84-80, C+ = 78-77, C = 77-74, C- = 74-70, D+ = 70-67, D = 67-64, D- = 64-60, F = 60-0.
For any submission, if you believe there have been grading mistakes, you can ask for re-grading. The assignment will be graded by a new grader and the second grade will be recorded.
Integrity We follow the UC Davis code of academic conduct. You are permitted to work together on the assignments. However, you must write up and submit your own unique assignments.
Accessibility Students who may need an academic accommodation based on the impact of a disability must initiate the request with the UC Davis Student Disability Center. Professional staff will evaluate the request, recommend reasonable accommodations, and prepare a letter of accommodation for the faculty. Students should contact the SDC as soon as possible since timely notice is needed to coordinate accommodations.
Addressing the Instructor I prefer Masoud and he/his/him for pronouns. No titles or last name needed.
Participation We believe that our class benefits enormously from you sharing your thoughts and questions. Your background, life experiences, knowledge, thoughts, and ideas make you unique, and our classroom diverse. This diversity of perspectives is the foundation of learning in a classroom. At a larger scale and within a scientific community, it is also a major contributor to scientific progress. Therefore, sharing your thoughts and questions can help us learn and build a wider, stronger community of scholars.

Some of you may worry that your classmate's asking questions and sharing ideas may disrupt the class progress. Judging when to ask a question or share an idea is tricky but also part of education. Instead of discouraging it, we would like to practice it together. Here is flowchart that you might find useful. Ultimately, we trust your judgments.
Questions We genuinly believe that there are no "stupid" questions in a classroom. The point of going to a class is to learn together and questions are our best tool to achieve that. It is easy to show that your question will help us learn no matter what. Your question is either:
(1) not framed well; in which case you give us a chance to explain the topic better. Chances are we did not explain it well the first time and many of your classmates are wondering about it too.
(2) framed well and has an answer we know; in which case we can help you as well as your classmates who have the same question learn it too! You have also helped us consolidate our knowledge by explaining it again.
(3) framed well but has an answer we do not know; in which case we can find the answer together and your question has helped all of us learn!
(4) framed well and does not have an answer yet; in which case you found a research topic someone can start working on and benefit the field!
As you see, your question has helped our learning either way. So please ask!