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Theoretical Comparative Syntax by Naoki Fukui

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Appendix

On the nature of economy in language

This paper argues that there are rather unexpected fundamental connections to be made between the principles of language and the laws governing the inorganic world. After summarizing the major development of economy principles in physics and the basic results of discrete optimization problems in combinatorial mathematics, I will argue that the economy principles which theoretical linguists are currently trying to discover in the theory of language are something comparable to the Principle of Least Action in physics. This provides us with a concrete interpretation of the point Chomsky has repeatedly made (Chomsky 1991a, b, passim), i.e., language, despite its biological nature, shares the fundamental ...

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