On 24 May 2017, the Department of Linguistics at University College London will host a conference entitled "Subordinate Clauses in Generative Linguistics", aimed at bringing together researchers working on embedded clauses from a generative perspective.


From Chomsky's (1957) generalised transformation approach to the recursive rewrite rules of Chomsky (1965), clausal embedding has played a central role in syntactic theory from the onset of the generative enterprise.

     More recently, the theoretical implications of the (non-)availability of clausal embedding in Piraha, regarding core properties of the human language faculty, have been discussed in Everett (2005) and Nevins et al. (2007).

     In both the philosophical and linguistic literature, embedded clauses have played a central role in theorising about questions of interpretation and composition. See, for example, Davidson (1968), Hintikka (1962) and more recent work aimed at decomposing embedding verbs initiated by Kratzer (2006).

     There has also been an ongoing debate concerning the syntactic, semantic and pragmatic differences between main and subordinate clauses within and across various languages (Corum et al. 1973, Aelbrecht et al. 2012).

Invited Speakers

Liliane Haegeman (Universiteit Gent)

Hazel Pearson (Queen Mary University of London)


Jiri Kaspar (University College London)

Patrick Elliott (University College London)


The Department of Linguistics at University College London

The Linguistics Association of Great Britain


Aelbrecht, Lobke, Liliane Haegeman and Rachel Nye (2012). Main Clause Phenomena: New Horizons, John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam.


Chomsky, Noam (1957). Syntactic Structures, Mouton, The Hague.


Chomsky, Noam (1965). Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.


Corum, Claudia, T. Cedric Smith-Stark and Ann Weiser (1973), You Take the High Node and I'll Take the Low Node: Papers from the Comparative Syntax Festival The Differences between Main and Subordinate Clauses, Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago.


Davidson, Donald (1968). "On Saying That", Synthese 19(1).


Everett, Daniel (2005). "Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Piraha: Another Look at the Design Features of Human Language", Current Anthropology 76(4).


Hintikka, Jairo (1962). Knowledge and Belief, Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Kratzer, Angelika (2006). "Decomposing Attitude Verbs". Handout from a talk from the workshop Honoring Anita Mittwoch on her 80th Birthday, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Nevins, Andrew, David Pesetsky, and Cilene Rodrigues (2009). "Piraha Exceptionality: A Reassessment", Language 85(2).