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linguistic model behind Greek syntax


A. Smith
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Besides the question of which linguistic theory appeals to you in terms of presentation, etc., the deeper question that *ought* to guide one's choice is whether the philosophy of language, mind, and human underlying the theory is compatible with your own philosophical positions. For instance, I once had a very prominent functionalist (now deceased) tell me that "it's all about materialism" (of the mind, of the human, of language as impulses that are reactions to stimuli). This is the contemporary revival of Skinner's behaviouralism. The linguist was trying to convert me, in a friendly way, since I was the lone generativist in that linguistics department. He did quite the opposite, since while some of Chomsky's linguistics are also based in materialism, the essential mentalism of the model accords better with my Christian anthropology, even if I may interpret mentalism in a way that Chomsky would likely disapprove. Other topics that are relevant are the issues of innateness and human nature. 

 

Before dismissing Chomskyan generative linguistics, I suggest reading one or both of these two books: 

Snith, Neil. 2004. Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McGilvray, James A. 2013. Chomsky: Language, Mind, and Politics. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Polity Press.

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Hi Robert,

Still working on all of this, but very slowly. On one front I started reading An Introduction to Language, with a view to continuing with Syntax, a Generative Introduction. On another front, I'm going through the MIT online course. Finally, on a third front, I started reading Sailhamer's notes, with a view to continuing in your Manual. Hopefully, work on the other two fronts will help me understand the similarities in his and your analyses, and the philosophical basis for a few differences. This is all with a view to make better use of your database. Notice though, I used the word "started" quite often. I/we've had our busiest year on record, and I also committed to a paper/workshop on something entirely different. I just hope that by the time I am making significant progress in this area that you will still be a regular contributor to this Syntax Forum. :)

Regards,

Michel

 

Edit: This summer I spent a lot of time reading product manuals, e.g., for a new air tool or a welder, and I have to say, these manuals, which are often very poorly written, are a vast, untapped area for illustrating some beginning concepts in linguistics, especially the most basic ones about parsing a stream of words. For example, the MIT course used Carroll's Jabberwocky to illustrate open and closed-class items. Sometimes these manuals seem to be written in the same way.

Edited by Michel Gilbert
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I think all who study syntax must pass through the gate of Chomsky, whether they decide to stay there or move on to more functional landscapes. 

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Not always. I started with Functional Grammar.

 

And the question is this -- do they reflect on the philosophical implications? Or is it simply a case of moving to something more accessible?

Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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  • 2 weeks later...

Not always. I started with Functional Grammar.

 

And the question is this -- do they reflect on the philosophical implications? Or is it simply a case of moving to something more accessible?

Probably accessibility. The desire to work with a dead language without native speakers first drove a functional approach. Now that we are starting to comprehend language theory and how living languages change through grammaticalization, we start apply that to dead languages. Couple that with a growing corpus (manuscripts, inscriptions, etc), change starts to become more measurable. It opens up a whole new can of worms so to speak

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Not always. I started with Functional Grammar.

 

And the question is this -- do they reflect on the philosophical implications? Or is it simply a case of moving to something more accessible?

 

 

Probably accessibility. The desire to work with a dead language without native speakers first drove a functional approach. Now that we are starting to comprehend language theory and how living languages change through grammaticalization, we start apply that to dead languages. Couple that with a growing corpus (manuscripts, inscriptions, etc), change starts to become more measurable. It opens up a whole new can of worms so to speak

 

 

I don't know if it's a concession to accessibility or a desire to get to the practical results. Of course a theory of UG and the rest is important and ultimately behind it all, but for most of us the need is to explain the text. For all its strengths, Chomskyan syntax (whether TG, MP or whatever) is less than intuitive and functional approaches easily sidestep the question to focus on the text at hand. 

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I don't know if I would consider SFL more accessible than TG, to be honest. I found Syntax Structures a good read. I'm having more difficulty with Halliday and Matthhiessen. Somehow I find the more mathematical formulation more accessible. And the tree structures seem more straightforward. (That said finding a decent explanation of EPP has been a challenge. I think Carnie should be good though.) Part of the problem is getting through to a full formulation of various "systems". Of course, Hallidayan FG isn't the only FG formulation.

 

And to the implications for cognitive models I haven't really got to much yet, but It's one of the prime reasons for going back to the original papers and publications as much as you can. Such papers tend to expose more of the original motivations which are valuable for gaining a basic understanding of the orientation for the models.

 

Thx

D

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I don't know if I would consider SFL more accessible than TG, to be honest. I found Syntax Structures a good read. I'm having more difficulty with Halliday and Matthhiessen. Somehow I find the more mathematical formulation more accessible. And the tree structures seem more straightforward. 

 

 

Welcome to a very strange and small club, then (at least in biblical studies).

Edited by Robert Holmstedt
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