Exoskeletal Approaches to Grammar

Terje Lohndahl, Tor Åfarli og Maren Berg Grimstad


The research group Exoskeletal Approaches to Grammar (EXOGRAM) investigates a particular approach to grammar whereby syntactic structures are generated independently of properties of individual words that make up sentences.

A typical assumption within formal grammar is that words are the basic building blocks of sentences. Over the past 20 years, more and more work has come to question this assumption, instead arguing that sentential structures are generated based on abstract features. These abstract features can be lexicalized by what we often think of as words.

An exoskeletal approach fits very well with a late-insertion approach to grammar, e.g., as developed within Distributed Morphology. We are interested in exploring the various ways in which exoskeletal and late-insertion approaches can be combined, especially when it comes to constraining the formalism.

The group works on understanding aspects of the grammar of individual languages such as English, Norwegian, Dakkhini, and others. In addition, we are the first group to develop an exoskeletal approach to code-switching/language mixing. Some of the latter work is done together with our main collaborator, Professor Artemis Alexiadou at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in Germany.

EXOGRAM is part of the bigger cross-institutional research group AcqVA between NTNU and UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø.