May 9th, 2008


X-Bar Theory: Weird Syntax

I'm so confused.

What the hell is a D? In our Intro to Linguistics course, our entire syntax unit was based on X-Bar Theory while all the other Intro Courses worked with several theoretical frameworks for each unit.

I've never come across a DP, D bar or D head. We only had CPs, IPs, NPs, PPs and A(adjective)Ps.

Second, we considered adverbs and other words of "degree" as a slot in the specifier position of a VP. This slot is also, incidentally, where we were TOLD to ignore what the book says. We're told that modal words such as "would" or "will" are also placed in this specifier position as opposed to the slot under the Inflectional head of [-Pst] (which is what the book said).

So that suddenly makes the movements involved in creating the surface structure of Yes-No questions a lot weirder. The textbook says to take this modal word and move it to the C head of the overall CP clause because this C head gains a Question feature. But the Prof said this was wrong and that we had to move it to the Specificer Position of the entire CP.

So then Wh-movement becomes even weirder than that. Because the teacher suddenly agrees for Wh-movement that the modal verbs go in the C-head instead of in the Specifier position of CP clause because THAT slot now has a [+Wh] which is identical to one of the NP in the deep surface's IP..

So what the hell is going on? Am I to understand that the Prof is diverging from the textbook in such weird, nonsensical ways because there are new, WEIRD advancements in X-Bar Theory that the book didn't take into account? And who else only learned X-Bar Theory in an intro?

Sorry if I'm not very articulate in describing all this. I'm not good at explaining things without charts.
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