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
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?) -
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
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