Chomsky, Labov, Cassidy, Lakhoff, Dilliard, McDavid, Nixon in 1974.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 13 08:25:48 UTC 2001

>I inadvertantly sent this just to Tim last night, instead of the list...
>Tim Frazer said:
>>Linguistics in 1974.  I went to the Linguistics Institute in Amherst, Mass.
>Hey...I was at that Institute too. It was the summer before I entered
>graduate school.
>>The Generative vs. Interpretive Semantics debate was hot and heavy.  Noam
>>Chomsky gave a lecture which might as well have been in Martian as well as I
>>was concerned. He was very much worshipped there.
>Not completely. One of the things I vividly remember about that lecture
>series was Barbara Partee's anguish at giving a critical followup to one
>lecture. Oh, yes, and happening to get in the same elevator as Chomsky
>*and* Halle after another Chomsky lecture and having a friend stage-whisper
>to me "any questions?"
>There was lots of other stuff in the air suggesting that Chomsky didn't
>have the complete story.

The 1974 institute was perhaps best known for being the launching pad
of a syntactic theory that set itself up as a fairly major rival to
what was then called the Revised Extended Standard Theory of
generative grammar (i.e. Chomsky's then current model).  This rival
theory was Relational Grammar, and was advanced by David Perlmutter
and Paul Postal in their joint course at the institute.  While other
LSA institutes have been associated with particular theoretical
frameworks (the Generative Semantics institute at Illinois in the
previous decade comes to mind), I can't remember any other theory
that was really launched by an institute course in just this way,
partly because P&P had eschewed the normal publication avenues up to
that point and somewhat beyond.  (There was an earlier CLS paper that
was never written up and some provocative but inchoate hints by
Postal in _On Raising_ (published in 1974 but written several years
earlier), but really nothing in print up to that point.  So for
several years thereafter those of us who taught RG, either in a
self-contained course or incorporated into an eclectic syntax course
or seminar, did so using our notes from P&P's UMass Institute
lectures as a text.

Myself, I was really happy with a Pragmatics course offered by Bob
Stalnaker and one on presupposition by Janet Fodor.  Amherst in 1974
was also the first institute (or maybe the second--I can't remember
the details about the 1973 'toot at Ann Arbor) at which Ivan Sag
arranged for the rental of fraternity and sorority houses so that
graduate students and faculty who were attending but didn't opt to
live in the official dorms could pretend we were in summer camp, a
practice that has extended through the 1999 Institute at Urbana.
Partly as a result, there was also a lot of other stuff going on that
summer that was only indirectly connected to academic linguistics and
that can't really be mentioned on a family listserv.  Ah, youth!


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