But professor, syntax is hard!

Every few weeks I get an email from a student complaining that syntax is too hard or that they simply can't understand it. Occasionally I even get requests to rewrite my textbook to make it simpler! (For the record, I'm happy to receive feedback on ways I might make the material more accessible, but these student emails rarely contain specifics). So what's going on? Why is syntax such a barrier to many people studying linguistics? Why has my sub-discipline got this terrible reputation? I have some thoughts on why people are intimidated by syntax. Many people come to linguistics from a humanities and arts backgrounds and the minute anything formal is presented to them, especially if they suffer from math-phobia, it scares them. But at the core, compared to other fields, the math behind syntax is actually fairly elementary, it just looks intimidating and unfamiliar. I think syntax also doesn't look like other kinds of science they've been taught. In North American sch


Dear Students and Colleagues, My textbook, Syntax: A Generative Introduction , is about to enter its 22nd year of publication and the book is now in its 4 edition. So we are now well overdue for a blog from your author! I'm sorry it's taken so long to do this. My plan for this blog is to post announcements related to the book as well as make occasional posts about issues that people commonly write to me about. So let me start this office by providing some links to various resources associated with the book. There are two related books that are the topic of this blog:  Carnie, Andrew (2021) Syntax: A Generative Introduction 4th edition. Wiley Blackwell.  Carnie, Andrew (2021) The Syntax Workbook. 2nd edition. Wiley Blackwell Here's where you can buy these books: Textbook : Workbook :