9 May 2019
Queen Mary faculty Daniel Harbour, Luisa Martí, Hazel Pearson and Coppe van Urk are convening a British Academy conference titled "The Alphabet of Universal Grammar", 4-5 July 2019. The conference description reads:
Features—atomic units of contrast—are the alphabet of natural language. They predate the Cognitive Revolution and are central to Generative Linguistics, yet there is a hole in current understanding. Unlike phonology, syntax has no articulatory tract in which to ground its features. Consequently, the algorithms that build sentences are better researched than the atoms these algorithms operate over. Recently, however, morphology, semantics, typology, and psycholinguistics have sharpened syntax sufficiently for its foundational features to come into focus. Our conference aims to elucidate the featural alphabet of human syntax and to define a programme of enquiry into this underexplored domain.
More details available here.