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The foundational building block of nanosyntax is based upon the premise that the terminal nodes of the syntactic structures have become very small as the syntactic trees grew. Some recent work in theoretical linguistics suggests that the "atoms" of syntax are much smaller than previously thought. From that it immediately follows that the responsibility of syntax is not limited to ordering "preconstructed" elements. Instead, within the framework of nanosyntax, lexical items are derived entities built in syntax, rather than primitive elements supplied by a lexicon - i.e. syntax does not "project from the lexicon".
This discovery leads to profound and wide-ranging consequences once it is taken seriously.
The beginnings of nanosyntax can be traced to a 1993 article by Kenneth Hale and S. Jay Keyser titled "On Argument Structure and the Lexical Representation of Syntactic Relations," which first introduced the concept of l-syntax.
-  Archived May 10, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Starke, Michal. 2011. "Towards an Elegant Solution to Language Variation: Variation Reduces to the Size of Lexically Stored Trees." MS. Barcelona, Spain.
- Hale, Kenneth and S. Jay Keyser. 1993. "On Argument Structure and the Lexical Representation of Syntactic Relations." In The View from Building 20, edited by Kenneth Hale and S. Jay Keyser, pp. 53-109. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-58124-0