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date: 20 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter illustrates the technical notion of ‘explanatory adequacy’ in the context of the other forms of empirical adequacy envisaged in the history of generative grammar: an analysis of a linguistic phenomenon is said to meet ‘explanatory adequacy’ when it comes with a reasonable account of how the phenomenon is acquired by the language learner. It discusses the relevance of arguments from the poverty of the stimulus, which bear on the complexity of the task that every language learner successfully accomplishes, and therefore define critical cases for evaluating the explanatory adequacy of a linguistic analysis. After illustrating the impact that parametric models had on the possibility of achieving explanatory adequacy on a large scale, the chapter addresses the role that explanatory adequacy plays in the context of the Minimalist Program, and the interplay that the concept has with the further explanation ‘beyond explanatory adequacy’ that minimalist analysis seeks.

Keywords: syntax, language acquisition, minimalism, principles and parameters, relativized minimality, coreference, simplicity

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