Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
The research focuses on various syntactic phenomena in the three main fields of the clause: the initial field (the COMP-domain), the middle field and the right-periphery of the clause. The innovative nature of this project lies in the attempt to obtain a unification of the two dominant frameworks in generative syntax: the Minimalist Program and Optimality Theory. It shows that these two frameworks, which are generally seen as incompatible and competing approaches to language, can be fruitfully combined within one overall theory of grammar. The Minimalist Program and Optimality Theory focus on different aspects involved in generating syntactic structures. The first focuses on the derivation of sentences; the output of the grammar is mainly determined by the conditions on the computational operations that derive syntactic structures. The latter takes it for granted that a(n in principle infinite) set of syntactic structures can be generated, and assumes that the grammatical output is determined by the evaluation of these structures. In the Derivation-and-Evaluation model proposed in this project, both aspects are equally important: the grammatical output is determined both by the conditions on the derivations, and the evaluation of the structures that satisfy the conditions on the computational operations. In this way, several defects of the Minimalist Program and Optimality Theory can be avoided, with the result that several lines of inquiries that are now executed separately can again be united.