26 votes

What is the proper definition of a verb?

It's important to draw a distinction between syntax and semantics. In syntax (how words fit together), words are put into "categories" based on the way they fit together with others. If I ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
14 votes
Accepted

Besides logics, what mathematical tools are used in the study of linguistics?

Nice question, I think this is good to ask for linguistic theory in general, because people who are not so familiar with linguistic research often find this hard to imagine. First of all, logic in ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
10 votes

Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

The following theories that try to explain the origin of Proto-Indo-European numerals are mentioned in J. P. Mallory, D. Q. Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-...
J. Siebeneichler's user avatar
8 votes

Does majority of linguists accept universal grammar?

While this is an oldish question with some existing good answers, I think there's something fundamental missing from all of them: "Universal grammar" is both ambiguous and vague, and people who "don't ...
abarnert's user avatar
  • 2,625
8 votes

The Theory Against Syllables

The claim that there are no syllables is based on the lack of evidence that the syllable is necessary, so this is an Occam’s Razor argument. If no language presents sufficient evidence that syllables ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
8 votes
Accepted

How to define colors in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage?

Anna Wierzbicka wrote a chapter in her 1996 text Semantics: Primes and Universals on the semantics of colour terms. In this chapter she presents a theory where colours are understood according to ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 6,186
8 votes

Is linguistics a superset of programming language theory?

Linguistics, as normally understood in the scientific community, is not the study of language, but the study of natural language. As such, programming languages are not part of linguistics. There ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

A question about C-command

Traditionally, c-command does not reach out of a prepositional phrase. Here are two definitions of c-command taken from the literature: C-command: A node A c-commands a node B if, and only if A's ...
Tim Osborne's user avatar
  • 5,677
8 votes
Accepted

What is the “Chomsky hierarchy”?

In the 50's, Chomsky set out to devise a mathematical theory of language, which resulted in classifying kinds of production rules. For example, if all rules in a grammar are of the form A → a A, or A →...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
7 votes

What does "generative" mean? Can a linguistic theory be non-generative?

For a short version, I'll cite my proposed tag wiki for generative-grammar: A theory usually associated with Noam Chomsky that accounts for a language's grammar by a system of rules that are able ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Some questions about the basic concepts in semantics

The terminology is somewhat vague and, to make it worse, sometimes used quite differently across authors and episodes. The SEP article gives a historical overview of the usage of some of these terms, ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
7 votes

What is the proper definition of a verb?

Semantically, there are two main functions in language: reference and predication. Some morphological items or words primarily refer to entities in the perceived world, while other items relate the ...
Davius's user avatar
  • 550
7 votes

How did Chomsky conceive orthography and spelling?

The first relevant work that I know of are comments for Project Literacy Meeting, Chicago, August 6, 1964, which was later published in Readings in applied transformational grammar, ed. by M. Lester (...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
6 votes

How does the description of the grammar of a language differ between a traditional and scientific approach?

This is of course difficult to prove, but I would say traditional grammars tend to be prescriptive, i. e. they are conceived as a list of rules to be followed in order to speak the language correctly, ...
pablodf76's user avatar
  • 1,235
6 votes

What are the target and source domain of this metaphor

Wikipedia defines the source and target domains as: Source domain: the conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expressions (e.g., love is a journey). Target domain: the conceptual domain ...
CamStew's user avatar
  • 146
5 votes

Are there any good theories explaining the language aspect of the Zipf Mystery?

One research group at our university is particularly interested in the statistical properties of language. One professor, Michael Ramscar, is teaching us some classes this semester on related topics. ...
xji's user avatar
  • 603
5 votes

Where did the discussion of the language faculty between Fitch, Hauser, Chomsky and Pinker and Jackendoff terminate?

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-...
Ghoti657's user avatar
  • 321
5 votes
Accepted

How is category theory applied in linguistics?

Here's a short and perhaps inadequate answer: the correspondence is briefly but clearly sketched in the wikipedia article "pregroup grammar". The simplest pop-sci reference I know of is an article ...
Linas's user avatar
  • 176
5 votes

To what extent does this image accurately express the modularity of linguistic units?

I find it more accurate to see the world as follows: IMO it's not very accuate to depict semantics as an extension of syntax. There is a crucial difference in what phonology, morphology and syntax do ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Why long vowels are considered vowels and not 2 vowels

Actually, they are considered to be two vowels. This is discussed in The Representation of Vowel Length, but the really short answer is that long vowels are typically considered to be a single segment ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
5 votes
Accepted

Can we predict language death just by looking at grammar?

You can somewhat predict language death from current available data on the language, but not from the structure itself. A factor that accompanies language death is that speakers have significant ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
5 votes

Relationship between complexity of a sentence and the average distance between the tokens in which we relate

There is no linguistic theory which states this, because the underlying ideas are too vague to submit to theorization. However, you might be able to fill in the gaps. Length requires a standard of ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
5 votes

Is linguistics a superset of programming language theory?

"Does the question of programing language being a subset of linguistics even make sense?" Yes, it does. The programmers doing the programming all speak natural language. Can anyone imagine devising ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
5 votes

/ðæs saɪd/ versus /ɡʊb bɔɪ/ - Assimilation of place versus manner

It is questionable whether there is such a thing as "assimilation of manner" in the same sense that there is assimilation of place. Assimilation of place traditionally refers to wholesale ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
5 votes

What is the proper definition of a verb?

What's a verb? It's different in every language. In English, I can see how you don't want to put is and leaves in the same category. And you're right about why is is considered a verb. But it's not ...
jlawler's user avatar
  • 10k
5 votes

Phonemes vs. Distinctive Feature Theories

The trick lies in the disconnect between phones and phonemes. Phones have some physical reality—we can measure acoustic properties of the sound, or articulatory properties of the vocal tract, and ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
4 votes

Merging phonetics and phonology

You need to provide a reference to "Hale (1954)": it is virtually a certainty that the year is wrong, since this would have been an entirely different issue in 1954. There is, however, Morris Halle, ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
4 votes

Why hasn't functional grammar been more popular?

Two disclaimers: It's been a long time ago that I read Halliday, and (secondly) I don't know that anyone agrees with me here. But to my mind, it's not a real theory. He constructs a descriptive ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
4 votes

How does the description of the grammar of a language differ between a traditional and scientific approach?

Traditional grammars were developed mainly for heavily inflecting languages (Sanskrit, Classical Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Classical Arabic). Such kind of grammars turn out to be inadequate for languages ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Is generative grammar a theory or an approach?

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 ...
brass tacks's user avatar

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