Heidi Harley
Glot International 3.1, 6-8.
Publication year: 1998

The idea that the language faculty is subject to economy conditions is the starting point for a large proportion of generative syntax in these post-Mini- malist days. Everyone agrees that the brain will do the easiest, least effortful (most elegant? most beau- tiful?) thing to bridge the sound–meaning gap and construct representations that are intelligible both to our interpretive apparatus and our mechanical apparatus (cf. Chomsky 1995). Debate, then, centers on determining what makes one representation easier for the brain than another, a notoriously difficult question.

Barbiers proposes that the goal of syntactic structure-building is the creation of a well-formed complex meaning, given a number of meaningful simplex building blocks. Hence, in his framework, every syntactic operation must be driven by purely semantic criteria.