19

The Wikipedia claim that 'the majority of linguists accept universal grammar' is highly unlikely to be true. I would posit an alternative hypothesis: The majority of linguists do not care about universal grammar. They may be skeptical or enthusiastic about the whole enterprise but they probably do not know enough about it to be able to adjudicate. It is ...


14

Seeing this question reminded me of a section in Peter Matthews book 'Syntax' (1981) (it's meant to be a textbook, but it's more like a monograph really). In Chapter 4, p84-93, there's an explicit comparison and evaluation of dependency grammars vs. constituency grammars. Matthews shows that for any d-grammar, there is a ps-grammar which will generate the ...


13

Yes, there are concrete differences between dependency-based and constituency-based tree representations (D-trees vs. PS-trees). D-trees have the great advantage that they are minimal compared to PS-trees. Thus one can produce a D-tree for a given sentence with much less effort than one needs to produce the corresponding PS-tree for the same sentence. The ...


13

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 general is essential in formal semantics. Using propositional logic, predicate logic, set theory and tools like lambda calculus, functions and type theory, formal ...


10

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-European World: 1 *h₁oi-no-s: from the anaphoric pronoun *h₁ei- (i.e. English one) 1 *sem-s: originally "one united together" 2 *dweh₃(u), *dwoh₃(u): originally a ...


8

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 believe in UG" are usually not even talking about the same thing as people who "believe in UG". The core notion of UG is pretty uncontroversial: there is ...


8

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 exist, we cannot legitimately say that syllables exist, and that is the claim (i.e. that no language has been shown to have such evidence). However, all current ...


8

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 their similarity to exemplars (a type of prototype theory). For example, here are two explications for the English colour terms red and yellow: X is red. = ...


8

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 is a more general framework of formal language theory in mathematics that can (at least to some degree) account for the syntax of both natural languages and ...


8

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 sister either is B or contains B (Adger 2003: 117) C-command: Node X c-commands node Y if a sister of X dominates Y. (Sportiche et al. 2014: 161) Both of these ...


7

There's some nice sources on it in the functionalist camp. Can't find it now, but I think Haspelmath or Croft phrased UG as "whatever is left when we look at all the languages", which in essence is 1) not much, 2) probably not very informative. Typologists have been arguing against universal categories to be used for cross-linguistic comparisons even. Few ...


7

To once and for all codify all of human language to enable the unambiguous cross-linguistic, cross-cultural and cross-temporal dissemination of thoughts and knowledge has been a dream for thousands of years. Its earliest origins, at least in Europe, date back at least to Raimundus Lullus (1232—1315); the big names in this story include the likes of Bishop ...


7

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 to generate all the possible grammatical expressions in that language. In its original sense, "generative" does not neccessarily mean "production-focussed",...


7

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, but even today it's a bit of a mess and there is no agreement on the exact meaning of these terms. A good place to start is the distinction between extension ...


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

It's... both. The expressions Discipline and Field (of study) are synonyms. I doubt that Linguists will argue on that point. It's really just a matter of choosing one expression over the other rather than having actual differences in meaning.


6

All headed constituency-based structures (i.e. endocentric structures) can be easily translated to the corresponding dependency-based structures. One need merely collapse all the projections (minimal, intermediate, and maximal) of a word down to one node. A non-headed constituency-based structure (i.e. it has exocentric structures), however, cannot be ...


6

The "Natural" in Natural Semantic Metalanguage is intended to contrast with other semantic metalanguages which use non-linguistic symbols and syntax. Here's an example, which apparently is describing the semantics of have to: [[have to ϕ]]w,f,g = 1 iff for all v ∈ f(w) such that there is no v' ∈ f(w) such that g(w)(v',v),[[ϕ]]v,f,g = 1 In contrast, a ...


6

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, and usually to establish a standard; deviations from the standard will be either pointed out and discouraged as "mistakes" or "deformations", or simply ignored....


5

A few corrections: lojban, though a human language, is not a natural language; it is a conlang. AFAIK, there are no native speakers of lojban: that would require teaching lojban as one of the primary languages to a very young child. Lojban is syntactically unambiguous, and only mostly unambiguous semantically. If there were a lojban programming language, ...


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

Understand it against the theoretical background that an utterance is composed of a uniform set of some 20 phonetic features, one per segment, in a "solid" matrix, so an utterance with 30 segments has 600 feature specifications. Autosegmental phonology holds that the segment actually subdivides into autonomous "autosegments", for example (in Goldsmith's ...


5

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 from Bob Coecke, in New Scientist. If you stare at the diagram that appears in that article, you will notice it has a very striking resemblance to the link-...


5

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 with two "timing units", hence the two-ness. There is a rich literature noting that sometimes, "long" segments behave like there are two of them, and sometimes ...


5

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 uncertainty as to what the facts are. The reason is that the speakers hardly use the language anymore: so, if you have a really incoherent corpus of data, this ...


5

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 measurement, and there are multiple possible standards – number of letters, sounds, phonemes, words, morphemes, time in milliseconds to pronounce (given some ...


5

"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 a computer program if you don't already speak some natural language? Why do both human languages and human languages share the hierarchical structure seen in ...


5

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 shift in POA as represented in the IPA charts, to t → p, p → k and so on: columns of cells identify a "place". "Manner" cross-classifies rows ...


4

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 framework which tells us how to describe languages, but not why not to describe them some other way. It's not science -- it's language appreciation. His framework ...


4

Harris' work was very empirically based, and kernel sentences with their transformations were his tool for analysis. His student, Noam Chomsky, never worked empirically, yet introduced the notion of a generative grammar, which produces all the grammatical sentences of a language without producing any of the ungrammatical sentences. The type of ...


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