Minimalist Program

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The Minimalist Program is a set of programmatic ideas for the creation of a theoretical framework for syntax, developed by Noam A. Chomsky and his followers since the early 1990s.

It aims to eliminate from linguistic theory anything which is not 'virtually necessary'. For instance, in Chomsky (1992) it is claimed that d-structure and s-structure can be dispensed with.

Given that language consists of expressions which are pairs of PF- and LF-representations, the following elements are assumed to be necessarily provided by Universal Grammar:

  • a set of (phonological, semantic, and grammatical) features
  • a procedure to assemble features into lexical items
  • a small set of operations that form syntactic objects: the computational system of human language CHL.

The central thesis of the minimalist framework is that CHL is the optimal, most simple, solution to legibility conditions at the PF- and LF-interface; the goal is to explain observed properties of language in terms of these legibility conditions, and of properties of CHL. See checking theory.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


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