CSLI Publications logo
new books
knuth books
for authors
CSLI Publications
Facebook CSLI Publications RSS feed
CSLI Publications Newsletter Signup Button
Bare Grammar cover

Bare Grammar

A Study of Language Invariants

Edward Keenan and Edward Stabler

Without assuming arbitrary restrictions on grammar notation at the outset, Bare Grammars aim to provide the most straightforward definitions of the constructions present in human languages, together with a compositional semantics. A simple generative approach is presented which induces a natural algebraic notion of structure, with the surprising result that not only classical syntactic relations (like c-command) but also certain morphological relations concerning identity of particular morphemes (e.g. case markers) are properly structural. This means that “structural” properties are not restricted to those that have been somehow coded into tree structures or hierarchical feature structures of any kind. Formal models of case marking, verb voice, anaphora, are considered, and linguistic universals are proposed that do not assume any kind of structural isomorphism between languages. A strong form of compositionality is defended, together with the hypothesis that grammatical morphemes (“syntactic constants”) always denote semantic constants, revealing that the relation between form and meaning is not subject to arbitrary dictates of linguistic convention, history, and accidents of human biology.

Edward Keenan and Edward Stabler are professors in the Department of Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles.


  • 1 Introduction
    • 1.1 Language invariants and bare grammar
    • 1.2 Some properties of bare grammars
  • 2 Some case studies
    • 2.1 A case marking language
    • 2.2 Free word order and second position
    • 2.3 A voice marking language
    • 2.4 A language with relative clauses
  • 3 Some familiar grarnmars
    • 3.1 Context free grammars
    • 3.2 Categorial grammars
    • 3.3 Multiple context free grammars
    • 3.4 Constraint-based grammars
    • 3.5 Structure and expressive power
    • 3.6 Summary and open questions
  • 4 Laws of Language
    • 4.1 The structural role of grammatical categories
    • 4.2 A language with agreement
    • 4.3 Constraints on recursion
    • 4.4 Constraints relating form and meaning
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Index


ISBN (Paperback): 1575861887 (9781575861883)
ISBN (Cloth): 1575861895 (9781575861890)

Add to Cart
View Cart

Check Out

Distributed by the
University of
Chicago Press

pubs @ csli.stanford.edu