Syntax is the study of how phrases and sentences are constructed. Syntacticians are concerned not only with establishing the rules and principles of sentence formation in particular languages, but also with discovering what all languages have in common, at a very abstract, deep level. They seek to understand the limits of what is possible in natural language, and for that purpose they often compare sentences which are grammatical with minimally contrasting ungrammatical sentences. The following is just a sampling of more general questions that syntacticians address: what are the universal properties of all human languages, and what are the parameters across which languages can vary? … what is the most economical way to capture the essential properties of syntax across languages? … is syntax an autonomous system with its own logic and rules, or can syntax be reduced to meaning? … are some very deep properties of syntax innate?

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