was PirahN

David B. Kronenfeld david.kronenfeld at ucr.edu
Tue Apr 24 23:24:34 UTC 2007

I don't want to get into the present discussion (the part I snipped 
out, and the trail it replied to)--probably don't know enough to do 
it.  But on Chomsky's role and effects I do have some thoughts.  I 
think it is important to separate Chomsky's linguistics, narrowly 
taken from the philosophic affiliations and the psychological 
imperatives that he adduces his linguistic work in support of.
         The former flows very smoothly from his teacher, Zellig 
Harris, and then develops from there.  Working through SYNTACTIC 
STRUCTURES was a a eureka experience for me when I encountered it in 
an undergraduate linguistics course; some particularly previously 
confusing parts of English syntax all of a sudden became totally 
clear.  And then, later, I valued ASPECTS OF THE THEORY OF 
SYNTAX.  And, still, today, I find the ideas of "base structure" and 
"deep structure" different, each useful (for very different 
purposes), and not at all incompatible.  I haven't much kept up with 
what he's subsequently done--since, as a professional anthropologist 
interested in semantics and pragmatics, I've moved away from any 
ongoing interest in the subsequent development of 
Transformational/Generative approaches to syntax (or phonology).
         Chomsky's philosophy and psychology--including the details 
implied by his discussions of "innatism" and "Language Acquisition 
Device" and so forth--are not at all necessarily entailed by his 
linguistics work, his apparent claims notwithstanding.  For those who 
might be curious, this set of problems is one that I have discussed 
in a couple of papers--one quite old and one recent.

Kronenfeld, David B.
1979    Innate Language? Language Sciences 1:209-239.

2006    Formal Rules, Cognitive Representations, and Learning in 
Language and Other Cultural Systems.  Language Sciences Vol 28: 424-435.

  I can provide hard copy reprints of the former.  The latter is 
available on line in one of two forms (same text)--preface either 
line below with "http:"

e-copy of article on formal rules and 
cognition:         //dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2005.06.001
                                 or as 
typescript  //repositories.cdlib.org/postprints/1721


At 01:52 PM 4/24/2007, Arie Verhagen wrote:

>With all due respect, also for Chomsky and his important 
>contributions to the field (where
>would syntax be without him?) -

snip snip

David B. Kronenfeld             Phone   Office          951 827-4340
Department of Anthropology              Message 951 827-5524
University of California                        Fax             951 827-5409
Riverside, CA 92521             email   david.kronenfeld at ucr.edu

More information about the Funknet mailing list