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10

Let's start at the end. It is impossible to talk about original theories in this context. There was actually no cohesive formulation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. That is a label assigned later to a set of assumptions about language relativity formulated by Whorf who was inspired by his teacher Sapir. Neither can you talk about Chomsky's original theory ...


10

I don't personally believe that CFL are insufficient, but among linguists who care about weak generative capacity (probably most don't care about the issue), the consensus seems to be that they are. The usual reference given is an article by Peter Shieber, which is online here, and which is, in my opinion, an admirable work of scholarship. (Which doesn't ...


8

It's complex at first but there's very little controversy to be found. Noam Chomsky is a linguist and political activist famous for revolutionizing the study of all areas of linguistics via structuralist methods. He also has a second life as a political critic, bringing scientific methods to journalism, measuring coverage of topics to show the bias of news ...


7

Chomsky's argument for the Universal Grammar: Children pick up language quickly because of a Language Acquisition Device (LAD). While the LAD is hypothetical, Chomsky believes it to be innate and a part of the human brain. There are journal articles about evidence for the LAD, such as this article in Language. If there were an LAD, then one would expect to ...


7

I hadn't heard the term "statistical theory (of language)", but it seems to be a misnomer. I gather from your references that you take some data and use it to estimate the parameters of some statistical model. Model, not theory. We inherit our ideas about what empirical theories are like from the physical sciences, and a key property of those theories is ...


7

I do not think that Chomsky ever cited Tesnière in a meaningful way, because if he had, we would know about it. I state this as the main translator of Tesnière's work Elements of structural syntax to English. Consider the question from the point of view of the tremendous impact that Chomsky's ideas have had on the linguistics world. Had Chomsky ever cited ...


6

Actually, there's no more disagreement among linguists than among experts in other disciplines, if you compare like with like (in as much as this can be quantified). You just have to look at exactly what about language linguists disagree. A huge body of knowledge about individual languages, families of languages and language in general has been accumulated ...


6

The current generative (Chomskyan) approach to syntax is known as the minimalist program. If you want a rigorous introduction to this formalism, you should check Understanding Minimalism (2005) by Norbert Hornstein, Jairo Nunes, Grohmann. This text builds heavily on the Principles and Parameters approach to Government and Binding theory. If you are not ...


6

Given your background in mathematical logic, I'd say that there isn't any better place to learn about Chomsky's contributions than by reading Chomsky himself. If you want to chart the development of Chomsky's own thinking at the macro level, I'd recommend reading the following works in the order given: Syntactic Structures (1957) Current Issues in ...


5

The debate ended in 2005. Shortly after this, Chomsky (2005/2008 (written in 2005, and circulated, published in 2008) wrote On Phases which did not acknowledge anything from his previous papers co-written by Hauser and Fitch. In Chomsky (2005/2008) he proposes this (p. 5 in the 2005 version, and I'd assume the 5th page of the 2008 version): Suppose ...


5

First, let me get the usual caveats out of the way: MP is a program, not a theory. It tells you what kinds of questions to ask about syntax, and guides you in comparing the answers from competing theories. And so on. But in practice, what you're learning is the theoretical framework that everyone in MP uses. You may later learn why they think MP leads to ...


5

Beginning with your very last parenthesized question, does "this" refer to the argument you quote from Wikipedia or the argument you yourself make that begins with "however"? And why does that argument begin with "however", anyhow? It's hard to make out your question, once one realizes that the machine models you refer to are essentially due to Chomsky ...


4

I'll attempt to go through the various analytical possibilities for your example sentence within the GB framework: (i) John opened the door and left Hypothesis 1: (i) involves sentential co-ordination This hypothesis entails that (i) involves co-ordination at the IP-level. This leaves open a couple of different possibilities for analysing the subject ...


4

It's hard to nail down a scientific difference between functionalist and formalist approaches, because the goals and domains of investigation are usually disjoint. If you want some opposite ends of the spectrum, you could compare David Stampe's dissertation on Natural Phonology with this paper. The main question is whether there is an autonomous ...


4

Wonder takes an embedded interrogative complement with its own internal trace: You wonder who John saw t. You wonder who t saw John. You wonder why I left t. When you front that wh- you're asking it to do double duty, in both an external interrogative and the embedded interrogative: in effect it's standing for itself rather than for the trace! ...


4

My impression is that generative grammar is viewed by some grammarians as a Lakotosian 'research program(me)', not as a 'refutable "theory"'. I am not a generative grammarian (or any kind of grammarian), but I read the Generativist blog "Faculty of Language", whose contributor Norbert Hornstein has made references to a "research program" in various posts (e....


4

'Generative Grammar' is an ill defined term. You will find linguists using it to mean 'Chomskian Grammar', and linguist who think it can also refer to certain construction grammars. You mention that a system of rules that generates exactly those combinations of words that form grammatical sentences in a given language. is the definition of grammar. But ...


4

To my understanding, it's the other way around. According to generativists, syntactic categories are a fundamental part of the mental grammar of a language. When you learn a new lemma, like "purple", you also have to learn how it acts syntactically: in this case, it basically combines with an NP to make a new NP. (In practice it's a bit more complicated, ...


4

The best argument I've encountered against generative syntax is that made in C.F. Hockett's State of the Art. Personally, I don't subscribe to it, but you may find it persuasive. Hockett compares the game of professional baseball with the similar pick-up game played on vacant lots or in parks by young people -- "sandlot baseball". The professional game is ...


3

The main difference is probably that Chomsky's competence is a purely individual notion: it's the linguistic knowledge of a single speaker-hearer. Saussure's langue, by contrast, is not a property of any one individual but exists only at the level of society.


3

Chomsky (in this passage) defines universal grammar as "a system of rules that assigns sound and meaning in a definite way for an infinite class of possible sentences." He writes that it (=universal grammar) consists of three components: syntactic, semantic, and phonological. He understands the syntactic component as the one defining an infinite class of ...


3

I think you've got it the other way round. "Chomskyan" theory of UG is much more of a claim about "the brain", which (in humans) has specific machinery for language. The idea is that the language is probably not underpinned by the general cognitive mechanisms. Whorfian stuff, by contrast, is psychological. He does not claim that brains of people speaking ...


3

(Disclaimer: I am not a specialist in Syntax) According to the X-bar Theory, Adjectives, as any other lexical category, undergo three different levels of projection. They can have Complements (which are sisters to the head), Specifiers (or Subjects, i.e. sisters to Adj′) and Adjuncts (sisters to AdjP). Semantically speaking, the complement of an adjective ...


3

It's an approach, not a theory (IMO, naturally). In Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (where "generative grammar" was first given currency, Chomsky likens the relationship of a grammar to the sentences it describes to algebraic expressions and the graphical figures they trace out, or "generate", in analytic geometry. Hence the term "generative". Chomsky's ...


3

Generative grammar emerged most directly from formalism (and see formalism in mathematics). I'm not saying that Noam Chomsky is a formalist, but in his early work from the 50s, it is clear that in establishing the Chomsky hierarchy, he uses formal methods. In a formal system, what identifies a system and its parts is its form alone. That's what makes it a ...


2

The UG proposed by Chomsky has to be one that is consistent with transformational grammar, because Chomsky proposed TG. Chomsky does not like to be wrong. But TG is wrong -- there are no transformations. Once we give up on transformations, we can see that the answer is at hand. There is a UG, which was originally proposed by Chomsky himself, and that is ...


2

There are formalized dependency-based grammars, such as Meaning-Text Theory or Functional Generative Description. A simple Google search will give you links to papers and books.


2

Deep structure appears to be very real. The modern research on the topic of syntax supports this notion to such a degree that the syntactic movement of constituents is basically a truism. Some fairly revealing, though obvious interpretable, data on the topic of the essentiality of deep structure exists in many fields. One of those fields of research is that ...


2

Here is my summary (drawn from reviews of Wolfe's book -- I didn't read it). A correct view of this question about the nature of language would have to emerge from exposure to facts in the field. When you go out into the field, you get a good tan. This guy Everett is tanned and healthy, while Chomsky and those who follow him are pale and unhealthy looking....


2

No. Here is some examples. "A system of rules that assigns […] meaning in a definite way is known as 'semantics'" cannot be changed to "Semantics is known as 'semantics'". Also, anybody who says "I'm trying to discover a system of rules that assigns […] meaning in a definite way" would not say "I'm trying to discover semantics". I don't understand the value ...


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