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Trends Cogn Sci. 2006 Sep;10(9):413-8. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

The simpler syntax hypothesis.

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Department of Linguistics, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


What roles do syntax and semantics have in the grammar of a language? What are the consequences of these roles for syntactic structure, and why does it matter? We sketch the Simpler Syntax Hypothesis, which holds that much of the explanatory role attributed to syntax in contemporary linguistics is properly the responsibility of semantics. This rebalancing permits broader coverage of empirical linguistic phenomena and promises a tighter integration of linguistic theory into the cognitive scientific enterprise. We suggest that the general perspective of the Simpler Syntax Hypothesis is well suited to approaching language processing and language evolution, and to computational applications that draw upon linguistic insights.

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