LINGUIST List 11.567

Tue Mar 14 2000

Sum: Chomsky & Statistics

Editor for this issue: Lydia Grebenyova <>


  1. Joseph Davis, Chomsky & Statistics

Message 1: Chomsky & Statistics

Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 08:09:35 -0800 (PST)
From: Joseph Davis <>
Subject: Chomsky & Statistics

For Query: Linguist 11.375


Recently I posted a query concerning a reference I
vaguely misremembered from Chomsky on the irrelevance
of quantitative data in formal linguistics. Thanks to
the following for responding: Sabine Bartsch, Stefan
Thomas Gries, Mike Dowman, Barbara J. Luka, Leonor
Santos, Joel Walters, V.J. Cook, Paul Chapin, Toby
Ayer, and Vern M. Lindbad.

Two citations in Syntactic Structures were mentioned: 
p. 17, and Ch. 2 para. 2.4. The citation I was
actually seeking was found by Sabine Bartsch; it is: 
Halliday, M.A.K. 1991. "Corups Studies and
Probabilistic Grammar" in Karin Aijmer and Bengt
Altenberg (eds). _Corups Linguistics: Studies in
Honour of Jan Svartvik._ London, New York: Longman.
30-43. It has to do with the sentences "I live in New
York" and "I live in Dayton Ohio." The point was that
frequency of use has nothing to do with grammaticality

My own paper concerns the use of quantitative data not
in formal linguistics, but in what has been called a
"radically functional" "sign-based" approach, Columbia
School. My thesis is that the use of quantitative
validation of semantic hypotheses is legitimate but
that typically the use of statistical inference is not
(and is not necessary).

Recent Columbia School books are:

Contini-Morava, Ellen, and Barbara Sussman Goldberg
(eds). 1995. _Meaning as Explanation: Advances in
Linguistic Sign Theory_. Mouton de Gruyter.

Huffman, Alan. 1997. _The Categories of Grammar:
French lui and le._ John Benjamins.

Reid, Wallis. 1991. _Verb and Noun Number in
English: A Functional Explanation._ Longman.

My paper is expected to appear in a volume being
edited by Ricardo and Otheguy and Wallis Reid and to
be published by Benjamins.

Thanks to all who helped.

Joseph Davis
City College of New York

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