Generative linguists and categorial grammarians aim to develop a system of
Universal Grammar to explain structural variation across languages while at
the same time accounting for uniformity in interpretation. The generative
tradition has provided a broad empirical perspective on cross-linguistic
diversity. The type-logical tradition provides logical tools to understand
this diversity in deductive terms. This dissertation aims to establish a
two-way communication between these two perspectives.
This book presents the logic of variation as a system of universal grammar.
Its central claim is that the combination of structural variation and
uniform semantic interpretation in wh-question formation can be accounted
for in terms of three assumptions: (1) Higher-order type assignment:
higher-order type assignment to wh-elements accounts for the uniformity in
the semantic interpretation of wh-questions; (2) A fixed structural
module: variation in the structural realization is bounded by a restricted
set of structural rules which is claimed to be fixed by Universal Grammar;
consequently, (3) Strong lexicalism: cross-linguistic variation in
wh-question formation must be entirely reducible to differences in lexical
type-assignment, that is, there are no language-specific structural rules.
Empirical support for this view is provided for by presenting a broad
cross-linguistic analysis of languages that structurally differ in
This study will be relevant to linguists in the generative tradition and
mathematical linguists who are concerned with the formal system of natural
language variation and the syntax-semantics interface. The various grammar
fragments discussed in the thesis have been implemented with Grail, Richard
Moot's parser for categorial type logics. The CD-rom accompanying this
thesis allows the reader to further explore the fragments which are
discussed and/or to formulate alternative analyses.