Which direction?
This website collects the results of a research program centered on the idea that structure building can be productively constrained by directionality assumptions (i.e. top-down vs. bottom-up, and left-right vs. right-left).
We argue that top-down and left-right structure building yields a more constrained set of well formed structures, and explains otherwise mysterious directionality asymmetries. The foundation stone is, of course, Phillips's work on the asymmetries in syntactic tests application (e.g. coordination vs movement) [Phillips 1996, 2003].
The top-down grammar we are elaborating also aims at cognitive plausibility and computational efficiency/tractability.
The requirement of computational tractability led us to adopt, and redefine, the minimalist notion of phases.
This produced the following results:
  1. strong islands are "computationally nested" phases [Chesi 2004, 2005], which yield a non-linear increase of the complexity function for the computation of long distance dependencies;
  2. this analysis of strong islands can explain parasitic gaps, as well as Kayne's (1983) connectedness effects [Bianchi & Chesi 2006].
The top-down perspective, coupled with the assumption of phases, has also proved fruitful in the analysis of the following phenomena:
  1. Ross's "right roof constraint" on rightward movement [Chesi 2009], contrasting with the unboundedness of leftward movement;
  2. the clause boundedness of Quantifier Raising, also reduced to a right roof effect [Bianchi & Chesi 2007/2010];
  3. the Leftness Condition on quantificational binding [Bianchi & Chesi 2007/2010];
  4. directional asymmetries in pronoun-antecedent connections (backward vs. forward anaphora) [Bianchi 2008/2010].
Finally, we think our top-down and left-right perspective is also consonant with a recent trend in semantic research, aiming at incremental left-to-right interpretation (see especially Shan & Barker 2006, Schlenker 2005) and it has interesting computational consequences that have been productively explored within the Dynamic Syntax framework (Kempson, Meyer-Viol, Gabbay 2001).
Our manifesto
  1. our theory must be fully explicit (in principle, it must be possible to test every prediction by running a computer program that implements the theory);
  2. directionality assumptions must be justified as providing superior results either in terms of better descriptive adequacy, or better explanatory adequacy (also with respect to performance asymmetries otherwise related to some inscrutable principle).
  1. Chesi Cristiano (2015)
    On directionality of phrase structure building.
    Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 44(1): 1-50 - DOI: 10.1007/s10936-014-9330-6
  2. Bianchi Valentina, Chesi Cristiano (2014)
    Subject islands, reconstruction, and the flow of the computation.
    Linguistic Inquiry Vol. 45.4 , pp. 525-569
  3. Bianchi Valentina, Chesi Cristiano (2012)
    Subject Islands and the Subject Criterion.
    in V. Bianchi, C. Chesi (eds.) ENJOY LINGUISTICS! Papers offered to Luigi Rizzi on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Siena:CISCL Press, ISBN: 9788890794308
  4. Chesi Cristiano (2012)
    Competence and Computation: toward a processing friendly minimalist Grammar. .
    Padova: Unipress
  5. Chesi Cristiano (2012)
    Rightward movement from a top-down perspective.
    In: W. Gert, M. Sailer and H. Walker (eds.) Rightward Movement in a Comparative Perspective. Amsterdam, Philadelphia:John Benjamins
  6. Valentina Bianchi (2008/2010)
    A note on backward anaphora.
    Draft of a talk presented at the XXX Glow Colloquium, Tromsoe, April 12-14 2007 (original title: non-reduncancy and backward anaphora)
  7. Valentina Bianchi, Cristiano Chesi (2007/2010)
    Reversing the perspective on Quantifier Raising.
    Paper presented at the XVII Colloquium on Generative Grammar, Gerona, June 2007
  8. Valentina Bianchi, Cristiano Chesi (2006)
    Phases, left branch islands, and computational nesting.
    Upenn Working Papers in Linguistics 12.1 : Proceedings of the 29th Penn Linguistic Colloquium, 15-28
  9. Cristiano Chesi (2009)
    Rightward Movement from A Different Perspective.
    Paper presented at "Rightward Movement in a Comparative Perspective", Workshop at the DGfS Meeting, February 27-29, 2008. Bamberg
  10. Cristiano Chesi (2005)
    Phases and Complexity in Phrase Structure Building.
    The 15th Meeting of Computational Linguistics in the Netherlands
  11. Cristiano Chesi (2004)
    Phases and Cartography in Linguistic Computation: toward a Cognitively Motivated Computational Model of Linguistic Competence.
    Ph.D. Thesis
  12. Richard Kayne (1983)
    Connectedness and binary branching.
    Dordrecht: Foris.
  13. Ruth Kempson, Wilfried Meyer-Viol Dov Gabbay (2001)
    Dynamic Syntax: The Flow of Language Understanding.
  14. Colin Phillips (2003)
    Linear Order and Constituency.
    Linguistic Inquiry 34:1
  15. Colin Phillips (1996)
    Order and Structure.
    September 1996. PhD dissertation, MIT. 305pp. Distributed by MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.
  16. Philippe Schlenker (2005)
    Non-Redundancy: Towards A Semantic Reinterpretation of Binding Theory
    Natural Language Semantics 13, 1:1-92, 2005
  17. Chung-chieh Shan, Chris Barker (2006)
    Explaining crossover and superiority as left-to-right evaluation.
    Linguistics and Philosophy 29(1):91-134, 2006.