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Title: The Cartographic Enterprise in Syntax
Author(s): Ur Shlonsky
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 4
Issue: 6
Page Range: 417–429
Publication Date: Jun-2010
Abstract: Cartography is a research program within the Principles & Parameters framework of syntactic theory. Its project is to draw detailed maps of syntactic configurations but its place lies in a broader research project, namely the study of functional (or grammatical) categories, their content, number and order. Cartography is inspired by and contributes to research in comparative syntax and typology. It adheres to the view that syntactic structures are uniform, locally simple and both necessary and sufficient to structurally represent the grammatical or functional information relevant for semantic/pragmatic interpretation. Like Minimalism, it attributes a cardinal role to features in syntax but whereas Minimalism focuses on the driving force of uninterpretable features, Cartography is concerned with the inventory of interpretable ones. Cartography contributes to a growing affinity between research in syntactic theory, semantics, discourse and information structure.

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The headsplitters/2   by Chiara Gianollo, Compass Panelist , 7-Jul-11
Two main open questions are discussed by S. (p. 424 ff.): 1) the motivation for the choice of the grammatical properties encoded by the functional structure: the guiding intuition is that they have to be part of Universal Grammar but, at the same time, should be ultimately reducible to properties of human perception and cognition; 2) the explanation for the ordering displayed by the hierarchy: where do the systematic properties observed come from? What explains precedence relations among functional heads? And, we may add, which principles explain the clustering of properties in certain areas of the clause space and especially the parallelism among such clusters in the functional structure of different lexical categories? In this respect, I find Boeckx's (2008 - Bare Syntax, ch. 4) explanation for the tripartite organization of projections very promising. In the concluding sections (p. 427 f.), S. notices some points of tension with the Minimalist framework, above all the issues of selection and locality, which are being treated in Minimalism under the assumption of a reduced structure, which is not a convention any more, but rather a substantive hypothesis: whether such a hypothesis can in the end be reconciled with Cartographic representations is another open question. The reader interested in further information on these topics will find in the 2009 book 'Alternatives to Cartography', ed. by Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, an excellent collection of papers that challenge some crucial assumptions of the Cartographic analysis (see the editor's Introduction for a summary). What I find particularly engaging in the discussion on alternatives to Cartography is the observation of the strong (causal?) link existing between the Cartographic developments and the assumption of the Linear Correspondence Axiom, and the consequent debate on the very basis of the current mainstream of analysis.
The headsplitters/1   by Chiara Gianollo, Compass Panelist , 7-Jul-11
In an accessible way, Shlonsky traces the development of the Cartographic research program, linking it to the emerging issues and questions motivating the Minimalist framework. He describes the origins of the program by reviewing the original 'head-splitting' work done since the late 80s (pp. 418-420). An aspect, which I think should be stressed more in this retrospection, is the role played by studies on the parallelisms among (extended) projections of different lexical categories in initiating the Cartographic enterprise: I'm referring in particular to the rich debate on the DP/CP parallelism, started by the DP hypothesis (see comments on this point and references in Cinque & Rizzi 2008); S. (p. 424) seems to consider the Cartographic work on nominal projections rather a successive extension of work previously done at the clause level. S. defends the view that, despite the apparent complexity brought about by Cartography (e.g. explosion in the number of functional projections, massive resort to movement), the Cartographic methodology and its main assumptions are not at odds with the Minimalist strive towards simplicity. Among Cartography's simplicity guidelines we may mention the assumption of a universal uniformity in syntactic structures, of a universally invariant hierarchy of projections, and of a principle of decompositionality (one feature one head). S. also highlights a number of improvements to the field of generative linguistics brought about by the Cartographic approach: a greater attention to interface issues, and thus a better integration of work in syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology (but is that integration or rather 'syntacticization'?); the collection of a considerable body of factual knowledge arrived at mainly on the basis of cross-linguistic work, taking into consideration a larger number of languages (see in particular the renovated attention to work done in the typological tradition, e.g. the recent discussion on Greenberg's Universal 20); an improved understanding of the (constrained) format of parametric variation.
Cartography and Topology   by Chiara Gianollo, Compass Panelist , 7-Jul-11
Here is a question that I would like to ask the readers of the Discussion Forum: it came up while reading Shlonsky's paper, but it's actually only marginally related to it, namely, it concerns the origins of the Cartographic program. What is the historical relationship between the studies on split IP and split CP (anticipating Cartography, and stemming mainly from observation on data coming from Romance languages) and the framework of topology (or fields analysis), i.e. the Vorfeld-Mittelfeld-Nachfeld concepts applied by the German(ic) grammatical tradition? Did the latter have an influence on the former? A Google search on this topic is not the easiest thing, because a query combining 'cartography' and 'topology' obviously retrieves a lot of results having to do with geography rather than with linguistics ☺, but I've found an interesting PPT presentation by Linda Zwezerijnen & Jan-Wouter Zwart (2008) at it concerns the adaptation of topology from the German to the Danish and Dutch grammatical tradition.
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