Opposite forces in language | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171



Generative syntactic theory of the past 35 years has developed from Government and Binding theory with its large set of articulated building principles, parameters and constraints into Minimalism with its small set of general principles and its reduction of syntactic variation to the Lexicon and Phonological Form. Hans Bennis’s syntactic work clearly mirrors this development. Also, since the nineties of the past century microcomparative syntactic research has become more prominent in generative syntax, e.g. in the work of researchers such as Richard Kayne and Cecilia Poletto, and Hans Bennis’s work is riding this wave as well. Both in the GB and in the Minimalist stage the textbooks that he (co-)authored have strongly influenced theoretical syntax in the Netherlands. The unique contribution of Hans Bennis and his research group at the Meertens Institute in the past 15 years involves the SAND project and the large amount of work building on it. By collecting massive amounts of dialect syntactic data in a theoretically and geographically systematic, and methodologically sophisticated way and by making them available, searchable and visualizable online, the empirical basis of theoretical syntactic research was greatly enhanced. This new research infrastructure makes it possible to address old questions in new ways and to ask new questions, e.g. about the relation between geographic distribution of grammatical properties and the Mental Grammar. The result is an integration of theoretical syntax and traditional dialectology, for the first time in the history of linguistics*


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): dialectology; microcomparative syntax; research infrastructure; syntactic atlas
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