The Minimalist Program 1
The Minimalist Program
It is my opinion that the implications of the Minimalist Program (MP) are more
radical than generally supposed. I do not believe that the main thrust of MP is
technical; whether to move features or categories for example. MP suggests that UG
has a very different look from the standard picture offered by GB-based theories.
This book tries to make good on this claim by outlining an approach to grammar
based on one version of MP. I stress at the outset the quali?er “version.” Minimalism
is not a theory but a program animated by certain kinds of methodological and
substantive regulative ideals. These ideals are re?ected in more concrete principles
which are in turn used in minimalist models to analyze speci?c empirical phenomena.
What follows is but one way of articulating the MP credo. I hope to convince you
that this version spawns grammatical accounts that have a theoretically interesting
structure and a fair degree of empirical support.
The task, however, is doubly dif?cult. First, it is unclear what the content of these
precepts is. Second, there is a non-negligible distance between the content of such
precepts and its formal realization in speci?c grammatical principles and analyses. The
immediate task is to approach the ?rst hurdle and report what I take the precepts
and principles of MP to be.1
1 Principles-Parameters and Minimalism
MP is many things to many researchers. To my mind it grows out of the per-
ceived success of the principles and parameters (P&P) approach to grammatical
competence. Here’s the story.
The central problem for grammatical theory is how it is that kids are able to
acquire grammatical competence despite the impoverish