Sergio Meira S.C.O. meira at RUF.RICE.EDU
Sat Apr 19 04:30:34 UTC 1997

> > It *is* possible to show that questions are derived from statements, in
> > certain frameworks.

Are rules then totally 'out'? Or could it be said that they are at least
good approximations for certain patterns in certain cases (though not
always and without any 'deep', 'cosmic' theoretical status)?

My perspective is that of a descriptivist. I do wonder about how the mind
works, and how exactly people can get the sentences they use. But... in
terms of describing a language, writing a grammar... Has any theory got a
better way of describing e.g. the English NP 's NP possessive
construction that via a rule or diagram (regardless of what *really* goes
on in the speaker's mind)?

It sometimes seems to me that there are (many?) different endeavors that
get mixed in linguistics-- e.g. that of describing the grammar of an
unknown language, that of finding 'universal patterns' and accounting for
them, that of explaining how speakers can 'do language' the way they do
(taking e.g. neurology or psychology into account). Maybe these things
should be kept separate more clearly.

Sergio Meira

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