This work is the culmination of an eighteen-year collaboration between Ken Hale and Samuel Jay Keyser on the study of the syntax of lexical items. It examines the hypothesis that the behavior of lexical items may be explained in terms of a very small number of very simple principles. In particular, a lexical item is assumed to project a syntactic configuration defined over just two relations, complement and specifier, where these configurations are constrained to preclude iteration and to permit only binary branching. The work examines this hypothesis by methodically looking at a variety of constructions in English and other languages.
At the time of his death, Ken Hale was the Ferrari P. Ward Professor Emeritus in Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Samuel Jay Keyser is the Peter de Florez Professor Emeritus in Linguistics and Special Assistant to the Chancellor at MIT. He is editor of the journal Linguistic Inquiry, the Linguistic Inquiry Monograph Series, and the book series Current Studies in Linguistics (all MIT Press). "It is difficult to exaggerate the significance of this profound and far-reaching inquiry into lexical semantics and its consequences for the structure of expressions, drawing on a remarkable range of empirical materials that are explored in depth with penetrating insight. Ambitious, controversial, highly original, and provocative, it is sure to be a landmark in the study of language."
--Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology "This book is an extraordinarily lucid presentation of Hale and Keyser's insightful, and deservedly influential, approach to argument structure. It is one more reminder of how much we will miss Ken Hale, but how blessed we were to have him as long as we did."
--Howard Lasnik, Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland