LINGUIST List 6.1763

Thu Dec 21 1995

Disc: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Editor for this issue: Anthony M. Aristar <aristartam2000.tamu.edu>


Directory

  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
  2. John F. Sowa, Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Message 1: Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 07:59:36 Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Two quick comments/questions:

(1) It has always seemed to me that the unaccusative hypothesis is
dealing with the same phenomena as Georgij A. Klimov's theory of what
he calls an 'active typology' or 'active construction' (I don't
think there is a good way of rendering Russian 'aktivnyj stroj'
in our impoverished insular tongue (:-), but neither side seems
to ever admit that the other exists--or am I missing something?

(2) Prof. Shaumyan refers to 'deep structure' as an 'obsolte
concept'. If he is right, I would of course be delighted, but is
it really obsolete? (And if not, how can we help along to its
deserved demise?).

Alexis MR
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Message 2: Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

Date: Mon, 18 Dec 1995 08:12:26 Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)
From: John F. Sowa <sowawest.poly.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.1760, Review: Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1995)

The review by Sebastian Shaumyan is a good summary of an important book
on an important topic. But I wish that the linguistic community could find
some less barbarous terminology than _unaccusative_ and _unergative_.

I realize that there are strong reasons for keeping terms that have become
widely used in the linguistic community, but I work on the borderline of
computational linguistics, AI, and philosophy. The phenomenon has important
implications that go beyond linguistics, and I despair of trying to explain
it to people who are immediately repelled by the terminology.

Aristotle made the point that you should not try to characterize a species
by negative differentiae because that suggests that there are no positive
features that distinguish it from the genus. The literature shows that
there are many positive features that distinguish unergativity and
unaccusativity, and I wish somebody would suggest some less repulsive
positive terms.

John Sowa
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