LINGUIST List 4.448

Thu 10 Jun 1993

Disc: GB and non-GB

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  1. Dan Everett, Re: 4.436 GB and non-GB
  2. "Barbara Need", Re: Non-GB = non-person?

Message 1: Re: 4.436 GB and non-GB

Date: Wed, 9 Jun 93 08:55:38 -04Re: 4.436 GB and non-GB
From: Dan Everett <>
Subject: Re: 4.436 GB and non-GB

The shared assumptions of people working in the `Chomskyan' framework
should not lead anyone to think that there is universal agreement,
obviously. The field would be pretty trivial if agreement were
universal on what are in fact very new research topics, i.e.
functional categories.

So Andy Spencer is probably correct when he suggests that people
working within GB primarily on morphology are likely to have a very
different view of functional categories than GB researchers who focus
primarily on syntax. The solutions may be different, producing
(healthy) debate. For example, the Wexler & Poeppel in Lg, which is
supposed to argue for the universality of functional categories might
impress syntacticians, but morphologists might first want to
experiment with the idea that for V2 phenomena what we have in fact is
a simple case of allomorphy:

 `Put inflected verb forms in Wackernagel's (2nd) position and
 uninflected forms in sentence-final position.'

That would handle most of the facts that Poeppel & Wexler address
without Functional Categories or movement. It is quite compatible with
GB (as is the W&P analysis). This suggestion is likely dead wrong, but
the failure to raise the issue will stand out more to GB (or other)
morphologists than GB syntacticians. (It is interesting that
Anderson's article in this same issue of Lg. (also compatible with GB)
proposes a model compatible with the above statement, providing an
interesting juxtaposition with the W&P article.)

On the other hand, the arguments for functional projections are not
exclusively syntactic. Morphologists can contribute different insights
to this research question. For example, Yagua (Lg. 65, 339ff) was
argued to be one of a large number of languages which split AGR off
from Tense (and this appeared before Pollock's article), due to
agreement and movement in NPs, VPs, and PPs, accounting for
morphophonological and syntactic facts. Moreover, I have argued in a
couple of places that the best way to account for the differences and
similarities between nominal clitics, affixes, and pronouns is via
functional projections AND allomorphy, itself sensitive to functional
vs lexical projections. Still I agree with Spencer's recent arguments
that the number of functional categories is likely to be far, far less
than what is often suggested by syntacticians (imagine the trees for
languages with, say, 2 to the 16th power verbal inflected forms,
common in the Americas).

To relate all of this to the issue of GB-wide consensus, what would
make anyone think that lack of 100% consensus between GBrs is even
worth commenting on? The idea of theoretical unanimity seems silly,
given the many empirical reasons that could lead to different
conclusions compatible with GB.

-Dan Everett
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Message 2: Re: Non-GB = non-person?

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 93 13:59:56 CDRe: Non-GB = non-person?
From: "Barbara Need" <>
Subject: Re: Non-GB = non-person?

I have noticed that the responses to Dick Hudson's query have veered off
onto how Chomskyans (dis)agree. I think we need to look again at his

As a reluctant syntactician (I had rejected syntax after a semester
of opaque trace-theory), I think that Dick has raised an important
issue. I for one have only returned to syntax because I have found
some non-GB syntaxes that make sense (GB does not make much sense
to me). I have noticed that there is a feeling in the linguistics
community that GB is THE syntax to do. At a conference a few years
ago. a phonologist, when she heard that I did non-GB syntax, said
"If you don't do GB, you don't do syntax"!! As a student at a school
which does not emphasize GB (the University of Chicago offers
Generative Semantics and Autolexical (both home-grown)--but other
theories are discussed), I have noticed the impact of that feeling
on my fellow students who have done most of their work in syntax.
Excellent scholars are not getting jobs in syntax, just because the
linguistics community--whether the school emphasizes GB syntax or
not--seems to feel that professors of syntax must be supporters of
GB. NOT be able to teach GB, mind you--most of us at the University
of Chicago who do syntax could probably teach GB syntax (given the amount
of work done in Historical Syntax of English, I am very familiar with
GB rhetoric--even if I don't agree with the analyses).

This is a very frustrating situation.

Barbara Need
University of Chicago
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