UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 9 (1997)

Syntax without functional categories


This paper argues against the notion 'functional category' (a kind of word-class) while accepting that individual words may be described as 'function' words or 'content' words. It focuses on the two least controversial examples of functional categories -- 'determiner' and 'complementiser' -- and argues that neither of these categories is needed; and if this conclusion is correct, there is even less independent support for the more abstract functional categories like 'Inflection' and its subtypes. There is no word-class of 'determiners', because determiners are simply 'transitive' pronouns; nor do 'complementisers' comprise a word-class because the standard complementisers are all different from each other.

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