Now available - The Canadian Journal of Linguistics 55 (3), November 2010

Tom Givon tgivon at
Wed Jan 5 23:20:48 UTC 2011

Dear Ron,
Thanks. Perhaps one should bear in mind that I've been exposed to this 
kind of lit, on its multiple permutations and from close quarters, since 
1964, and can by now predict every quirk and gambit. The book of 
Ecclesiastes may perhaps express my cynicism better. As for hijacking, 
the notion of 'theory' was hijacked just as early. And for the record, I 
am a theoretician.  Best,  TG


On 1/5/2011 3:41 PM, Ron Smyth wrote:
> Tom and Mark:  On the rare occasions when I read such a paper I see the
> theoretical constructs as a way to express generalizations about
> structures (as opposed to taking the theoretical apparatus too seriously).
> I don't think people should be so sarcastic without first looking at the
> paper to see what other value it might have for non-theoreticians.  If it
> has some insight about noun incorporation structures -- e.g. something
> that a psycholinguist, sociolinguist or historical linguist would be
> interested to know about -- then I don't get too upset about the
> formalisms.  Often the distributional facts that come up because of the
> pursuit of a theoretical issue are all that I really find valuable in
> these papers.
> I stopped worrying about this approximately 30 years ago, and instead I
> just mine the theoretical literature for different purposes.  Of course if
> the paper is just taking something that's already understood at some level
> and fitting it into the current week's framework, then I'm not interested
> (and I let those who are interested love it if they want to).  Moreoever
> if you had read the paper and come up with some great alternative
> functional explanation, you would have earned the right to dismiss this as
> theoretical drivel, but I don't see any of that in this thread.
> Theoretical papers are always falsifiable in the sense that
> counter-examples can upset the applecart.  What you are questioning is
> much broader than that, but this has been an issue since the early 1970s,
> so as far as Barrie's paper is concerned, there's nothing that we can't
> see see every day.  It's been going on for 50 years.
> I'm sorry that you didn't read down to the bottom of the CJL posting.
> One of the papers is about evidence in linguistics and how the
> transformational paradigm managed to hijack everyone's agenda; another is
> a fairly concrete article on vowel changes in Canadian English; another is
> about possible prosodic explanations for kids' ability to produce noun
> phrases.  Why no sarcastic comments about those abstracts?  What purpose
> does this kind of sarcasm serve, especially when it is so superficial and
> confined to funknet where the author is unlikely to see it?
> ron
> ===============================================================================
> Ron Smyth, Associate Professor
> Linguistics&  Psychology
> University of Toronto
> ============================================================================
> On Wed, 5 Jan 2011, Mark P. Line wrote:
>> So, what would be the procedure for falsifying the claims in that paper?
>> I'm pretty sure I don't have a clue as to how to show that something
>> doesn't really merge in theta-position.
>> -- Mark
>> Tom Givon wrote:
>>> Isn't this beautiful? It just falls out, naturally, from a geometry, and
>>> a theory of Dynamic Antisymmetry, no less. Wow! TG
>>> ============
>>> On 1/5/2011 2:05 PM, Greenwood, Audrey wrote:
>>>> The Canadian Journal of Linguistics / La revue canadienne de
>>>> linguistique
>>>> 55(3), November/novembre 2010 is now available at
>>>> Noun incorporation as symmetry breaking
>>>> Michael Barrie
>>>> Abstract:This article proposes a novel account of noun incorporation in
>>>> Northern Iroquoian. It is proposed that there is no special mechanism
>>>> for noun incorporation and that this phenomenon falls out naturally from
>>>> the geometry of the phrase structure under Moroâ??s theory of Dynamic
>>>> Antisymmetry. In a nutshell, when the verbal head and the nominal head
>>>> undergoMerge, they form a point of symmetric c-command,which is resolved
>>>> by the nominal head moving to the specifier of the verb phrase. Further,
>>>> it is proposed that, in noun incorporation constructions with a full DP
>>>> double, the incorporated noun and the DP form a constituent, which is
>>>> merged in theta-position.
>>>> Résumé:Cet article propose une nouvelle description de
>>>> lâ??incorporation nominale dans lâ??iroquoïen du Nord. Il est proposé
>>>> quâ??il nâ??y a aucun mécanisme particulier en matière
>>>> dâ??incorporation nominale et que ce phénomène découle naturellement
>>>> de la géométrie de la syntaxe selon la théorie de lâ??Antisymétrie
>>>> dynamique de Moro. En un mot, la fusion (Merge) des têtes verbale et
>>>> nominale forme un point de c-commande symétrique qui se voit résoudre
>>>> par le déplacement de la tête nominale au spécifieur du syntagme
>>>> verbal. De plus, jâ??avance que le nom incorporé dans les constructions
>>>> ayant un sd double forme avec celui-ci un constituent qui est fusionné
>>>> en position thématique.
>>>> Omission des déterminants : Contraintes dâ??alternances rythmiques ou
>>>> contraintes liées aux niveaux supérieurs de la structure prosodique
>>>> Roseline Fréchette
>>>> Marie Labelle
>>>> Résumé:Cet article vise à  déterminer si lâ??omission des
>>>> déterminants chez des enfants de deux ans est contrainte au niveau du
>>>> pied ou si elle est contrainte par les différents niveaux de la
>>>> hiérarchie prosodique. Neuf enfants francophones âgés de 24 à 31
>>>> mois ont participé à une tâche de répétition de 54 phrases de
>>>> quatre ou cinq mots de la forme suivante «Pronomv sn» réparties en
>>>> trois conditions : a) dét + nom monosyllabique; b) dét + nom
>>>> bisyllabique; c) dét + adjectif monosyllabique + nom monosyllabique.
>>>> Les résultats démontrent 1) plus dâ??omission du déterminant dans la
>>>> condition b que dans la condition a; 2) plus dâ??omission du
>>>> déterminant en c quâ??en b. Il est démontré que lâ??omission du
>>>> déterminant ne sâ??explique pas par une contrainte dâ??alternance
>>>> rythmique de bas niveau et que le niveau de la structure prosodique
>>>> auquel doit sâ??attacher le déterminant joue un rôle dans lâ??omission
>>>> des déterminants.
>>>> Abstract:This article focuses on whether determiner omission by
>>>> two-year-old children is constrained at the level of the prosodic foot
>>>> or whether it is a function of the different levels of the prosodic
>>>> hierarchy. Nine French-speaking children aged 2;0 to 2;7 were asked to
>>>> repeat 54 four-or five-word sentences of the form â??Pronoun V NPâ??
>>>> with three conditions: a) det + monosyllabic noun; b) det + bisyllabic
>>>> noun; c) det + monosyllabic adjective + monosyllabic noun. The results
>>>> show 1) more determiner omission in condition b than in a; 2) more
>>>> determiner omission in c than in b. It is shown that determiner omission
>>>> is not accounted for by a low-level stress-alternation constraint and
>>>> that the level of prosodic structure to which the determiner is attached
>>>> plays a role in determiner omission.
>>>> Redefining what matters: Syntactic explanation in American linguistics,
>>>> 1955â??1970
>>>> Janet Martin-Nielsen
>>>> Abstract:The postwar decades are well known for having brought dramatic
>>>> change to American linguistics on many fronts. This paper explores an
>>>> internally focused aspect of this change: conditions of explanation. The
>>>> two questions at stake are, firstly, what counts as explanation in
>>>> linguistics? and, secondly, how is this decided? I argue that
>>>> transformational grammarians dominated the setting of explanatory
>>>> criteria in 1960s American syntax, and that this dominance was essential
>>>> to the overall success of that theory. Importantly, rival grammarians
>>>> were forced to devote as much time and effort to fitting their theories
>>>> to the transformational criteria as they were to advancing their own
>>>> explanatory priorities. By successfully naming the conditions for
>>>> explanation, transformationalists provided their own supporters with
>>>> significant questions to pursue and, simultaneously, drew energy away
>>>> from rivals. This monopoly over explanatory criteria was central to the
>>>> dominant position transformational grammar established in the American
>>>> academic linguistics community.
>>>> Résumé:Les décennies de lâ??après-guerre ont été caractérisées
>>>> par des changements importants dans la linguistique américaine. Cet
>>>> article explore un aspect interne de ces changements : les conditions
>>>> dâ??explication.Deux questions sont en jeu ici : premièrement, en quoi
>>>> consiste lâ??explication en linguistique? et en deuxième lieu : Comment
>>>> décide-t-on en quoi consiste lâ??explication? Je soutiens que les
>>>> grammairiens transformationnels ont imposé le choix des critères
>>>> dâ??explication de la syntaxe américaine au cours des années 1960 et
>>>> que cette domination était essentielle au succès global de la
>>>> grammaire transformationnelle. Les grammairiens rivaux ont dû consacrer
>>>> autant de temps et dâ??effort à  adapter leurs théories aux critères
>>>> transformationnels quâ??à  avancer leur propres priorités
>>>> dâ??explication. En réussissant à  définir les critères
>>>> dâ??explication, les transformationalistes ont nourri leur propres
>>>> partisans de questions importantes à  poursuivre en même temps quâ??ils
>>>> ont drainé les énergies de leurs rivaux. Ce monopole des critères
>>>> dâ??explication était central à  la position dominante que la grammaire
>>>> transformationelle a établie dans la communauté linguistique
>>>> universitaire américaine.
>>>> Some remarks on subject positions and the architecture of the left
>>>> periphery in Spanish
>>>> Bernhard Pöll
>>>> This article reexamines the puzzling issue of where subjects, lexical
>>>> and null, are located in Spanish and offers a novel explanation for the
>>>> incompatibility of preverbal lexical subjects with fronted focussed
>>>> constituents. Both Specip and the left periphery appear to be potential
>>>> landing sites for subjects, according to discourse-pragmatic factors.
>>>> Assuming that pro is a clitic, it is argued that the aforementioned
>>>> incompatibility can be captured by a simple rule: Specip must be empty
>>>> for focus fronting to occur. This is the case with pro, which adjoins to
>>>> Infl, or with postverbal subjects since they remain in Specvp. From this
>>>> analysis it follows that: 1) the subject field in Spanish is less
>>>> articulated than is generally assumed, 2) the differences between
>>>> Spanish and other null subject languages with respect to the
>>>> availability of preverbal subjets can be reduced to this rule and a
>>>> different ordering of focus and topic phrases, and 3) it is unnecessary
>>>> to posit two different topic positions.
>>>> Résumé:Cet article examine lâ??épineuse question de la position
>>>> préverbale occupée par le sujet lexical en espagnol et offre une
>>>> nouvelle explication pour la contrainte sur la cooccurrence de sujets
>>>> lexicaux et de constituants focalisés en position préverbale.
>>>> Sâ??agissant des positions sujet, il apparaît que tant le spécifieur
>>>> de si que la périphérie gauche peuvent servir comme cible de
>>>> mouvement, en fonction de paramètres discursifs. En présumant que pro
>>>> est un clitique, je soutiens quâ??il est possible de ramener la
>>>> contrainte ci-dessus à  la règle suivante : le mouvement dâ??items
>>>> focalisés vers la périphérie gauche requiert que le spécifieur de si
>>>> soit vide. Câ??est le cas avec pro (attaché à  la tête de si) et
>>>> également avec les sujets postverbaux. Il sâ??ensuit que 1) la
>>>> structure des positions sujet en espagnol est moins complexe quâ??on ne
>>>> lâ??affirme souvent, 2) les différences entre lâ??espagnol et
>>>> dâ??autres langues à  sujet nul quant à  la possibilité de sujets
>>>> préverbaux se réduisent à  la règle mentionnée de même quâ??à  une
>>>> structure différente de la périphérie gauche, et 3) il nâ??est pas
>>>> nécessaire de postuler deux positions différentes pour les topiques.
>>>> The Canadian Shift in Toronto
>>>> Rebecca Roeder
>>>> Lidia-Gabriela Jarmasz
>>>> Abstract:This study provides the first wide-scale, apparent time,
>>>> instrumental description of the Canadian Shift in mainstream Toronto
>>>> English. In contrast with some previous findings, the Toronto data
>>>> suggest that for the last 70 years or more the shift has not affected
>>>> the high front lax vowel (I). We observe that the movement of the
>>>> non-high front lax vowels (ε) and (æ) involves both lowering and
>>>> retraction in Toronto English, although retraction is the primary
>>>> direction of more recent change and the shift appears to be slowing
>>>> down. Our findings also suggest that continued retraction of the vowel
>>>> resulting from the low back merger is involved in the final stage of the
>>>> shift. We do not find evidence of a chain shift but instead propose that
>>>> a parallel shift is occurring and make reference to Vowel Dispersion
>>>> Theory in our discussion.
>>>> Résumé:Cette étude présente la première description instrumentale
>>>> en temps apparent de grande envergure du Canadian Shift dans lâ??anglais
>>>> courant de Toronto. En contraste avec certains résultats antérieurs,
>>>> les données de Toronto suggèrent quâ??au cours des 70 dernières
>>>> années ou plus, cette mutation nâ??a pas touché la voyelle haute
>>>> antérieure relâchée (I). Nous observons que le mouvement des voyelles
>>>> antérieures relâchées non hautes (ε) et (æ) implique à la fois
>>>> abaissement et postériorisation, bien que cette dernière représente
>>>> la direction principale du changement plus récent; de plus, nous
>>>> observons que la mutation semble ralentir. Nos résultats suggèrent
>>>> également que la postériorisation continue de la voyelle qui provient
>>>> de la fusion des voyelles postérieures basses est impliquée dans la
>>>> dernière étape de la mutation. Ne trouvant aucune preuve de mutation
>>>> en chaîne, nous proposons plutôt que le Canadian Shift est unemutation
>>>> en parallèle. Nous invoquons la théorie de la dispersion des voyelles
>>>> dans notre discussion.
>>>> Honorific agreement in Japanese
>>>> Hideki Kishimoto
>>>> One-replacement and the label-less theory of adjuncts
>>>> Yosuke Sato
>>>> Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics and second language acquisition
>>>> (review)
>>>> Engin Arik
>>>> The locative syntax of experiencers (review)
>>>> Marco Nicolis
>>>> Lâ??enfant dans la langue (review)
>>>> Nelleke Strik
>>>> Pragmatics and grammar (review)
>>>> Dorota Zielinska
>>>> The Canadian Journal of Linguistics publishes articles of original
>>>> research in linguistics in both English and French. The articles deal
>>>> with linguistic theory, linguistic description of English, French and a
>>>> variety of other natural languages, phonetics, phonology, morphology,
>>>> syntax, semantics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics,
>>>> psycholinguistics, first and second language acquisition, and other
>>>> areas of interest to linguists.
>>>> For more information, please contact: University of Toronto Press -
>>>> Journals Division, 5201 Dufferin St., Toronto, ON M3H 5T8 Tel: (416)
>>>> 667-7810 Fax: (416) 667-7881 email:
>>>> journals at<mailto:journals at>
>>>> UTP Journals on Facebook
>>>> Join us for advance notice of tables of contents of forthcoming issues,
>>>> author and editor commentaries and insights, calls for papers and advice
>>>> on publishing in our journals. Become a fan and receive free access to
>>>> articles weekly through UTPJournals focus.
>> -- Mark
>> Mark P. Line
>> Bartlesville, OK

More information about the Funknet mailing list