How do we know what questions we can ask? What keeps us from moving words around into whatever order we want? In this week’s episode, we talk about syntactic islands: what they are, what rules can allow us to move some words across long distances in a sentence and not others, and what evidence we have from different languages to back these rules up.

Back to talking about syntax this week! We’re looking forward to hearing what people have to say.

Hey hey, new ep! And this one comes with a CONTEST:

Be the first to guess where our ~mysteriously missing~ figurine of Kanji Tatsumi, which has been in every episode ever, has gone traveling to, and you’ll win a Ling Space mug of your choosing! For srs guys, this isn’t an April Fool’s prank. ^_^

There are clues here and there, so get guessing!




How does a sentence’s structure change when you swap one word for another? How can we know what those changes are? In this week’s episode, we talk about raising and control verbs: what they are, how we can tell that they’re different, and what they can tell us about how syntax works.

This is a fun topic – there’s so much there once you start looking at it! Looking forward to hearing what people have to say. ^_^

Reblog for the day crew! ^_^

New episode is up! It’s syntax time!

Syntactic Movement and Traces

Syntax is one of these things which is both super neat and important to linguistics, and not the most intuitive for a lot of people! We try to explain one of the key aspects of it in our most recent video. Fun stuff!

Syntactic Movement and Traces


What lies beneath the sentences that we say and hear? How do we know which words go together? In The Ling Space this week, we talk about syntax: why we need it, and the trees that structure our words into meaningful phrases, using X’ theory.

Hope you all enjoy the video! And if you want even more on syntax, and the extra material on our website isn’t enough, we really recommend the recent series on various approaches to drawing trees on All Things Linguistic.

Looking forward to hearing what you think!

Reblarg! I got a lot out of this episode, personally, because Syntax was really not my forte at school (I was more of a Phonology/Acquisition/Psycholinguistics person). But I like the way Moti explains it! I feel like I understand the basics a bit better now. Go Moti!

A maximal projection walks into a v bar and asks for a little vP. The bartender says, “That’s not your usual selection.” To which the maximal projection replies, “Yeah, must be a phase.”

Source unknown. Update: the joke seems to have changed some in the telling, but I have now found it on this t-shirt, which was around in 2009

This joke requires quite a lot of linguistics background to get, but if it doesn’t appeal to you, you’ll still probably have some luck with the 15 pages of linguist humour in my archives

(via allthingslinguistic)

Syntax! I wish I was better at syntax. I do (kind of) get this joke, but only because of hours and hours and hours and hours of studying to get even the rudiments of syntax to stick. I wonder why people tend to either fall on the Phonology or the Syntax side of the fence, but only so very rarely have one foot in both (not that that’s a very comfortable way to experience a fence)?

We’re working on a syntax episode right now, and I’m honestly hoping it helps me get a better grasp on it! 

That list of linguist jokes, though – so good. It probably proves that I am about five years old that my favourite is:

What does a linguist-ghost say?

omg I’m totally gonna go around saying /bu::::/ now