LINGUIST List 4.421

Tue 01 Jun 1993

Disc: GB and non-GB

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , Non-GB = non-person?

Message 1: Non-GB = non-person?

Date: Sun, 30 May 1993 13:36:21 Non-GB = non-person?
From: <>
Subject: Non-GB = non-person?

Dick Hudson asks whether linguists who question the fundamentals of GB
are really that few or whether they do not count.
 My impression is that, in a sense, both are true:
 First, at least as far as North America is concerned, the great majority
of syntacticians seem to teach and work within GB, even in provincial places
where they have no chance of influencing theoretical developments (just look
at recent DAI volumes). Since the U.S. is the largest exporter of linguistics
"know-how", places like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Brazil seem to be mainly
GB-oriented as well (or is my impression wrong?).
 And second, non-GB syntacticians indeed do not count for GB syntacticians.
Chomskyans never argue against proposals by non-Chomskyans, and they do not
defend themselves against attacks. They generally refer only to work of other
Chomskyans, ignoring relevant work by outsiders. A good example is Bernhard
Rohrbacher's reference (in the same LINGUIST issue) to Roberge 1990, who argues
that French subject clitics constitute rich agreement. As is well known to
many people, this was proposed already by Lucien Tesniere in the 1930s, if
not earlier. It seems that Chomskyans can afford to do that because numerically
they are indeed the majority (if we count the provinces), and because linguists
with independent ideas do not form a homogeneous block. Dick Hudson, Ivan Sag,
Robert Van Valin, Joan Bresnan, Simon Dik and Jim McCawley agree mainly that
GB is on the wrong track, but disagree on most other things.
 My question is, how do Chomskyans manage to agree on so many assumptions
(e.g. that S-bar is CP, or that inflectional morphology has its own node(s)
in the tree)?

Martin Haspelmath, Free University of Berlin
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue