Discourse and gibbons

Daniel Everett dan.everett at man.ac.uk
Fri Nov 15 14:16:36 UTC 2002

> Oh, I have no doubt that all of what is on my current list is the
> contrived precipitate of misleading ways of looking at language. But
> they do label phenomena that we all have to account for, either by
> showing why they don't exist or how non-arbitrary functions can
> explain them more effectively. The point was simply to draw attention
> to the complexity of grammar by commonly used labels.
> Dan
> On Friday, November 15, 2002, at 01:57  pm, Bryllars at concentric.net
> wrote:
>> I agree with your letter -
>>    but I wonder how many of the features of human grammar that you
>> note
>> are the result of the formalism derived from Chomsky.
>> In real terms the rules of that formalism (competence vs performance)
>> only reflect a "real" grammar if there is some kind of agreement on
>> what is
>> or is not a sentence.
>> In many years of teaching linguistics to anthropologists I never
>> could get
>> a class to agree on many of the sentences used in crucial arguments
>> in arguments in generative grammar.
>> (Postal examples for instance),
>> Hockett's features may or may not be too limited -
>> but some kind of relatively empirically based, psychologically real
>> at some level,
>> features need to be used to make the comparison.
>> Karl Reisman
>> Bryllars at concentric.net
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