LINGUIST List 8.1642

Mon Nov 17 1997

Qs: Generative linguistics, Advanced Slovene texts

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  1. Solovyev V.D., unsolved problems in generative linguistics
  2. JPKIRCHNER, Slovene

Message 1: unsolved problems in generative linguistics

Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 23:37:32 +0300
From: Solovyev V.D. <>
Subject: unsolved problems in generative linguistics

Dear Colleaques,
It is proposed to discuss unsolved problems in the generative linguistics
in the frame of the on-line conference "The 40-th Anniversary of
Generativism", December, 1-12,
In order of preparing to the conference, I've put below the list of
problems, suggested by Martin Everaert
(, Utrecht institute of Linguistics).
You will receive all discussion, if you subscribe to the conference. 
It is necessary to send the file:
 subscribe generate YOUR-E-mail
to the address:
You can send your opinion, questions to the address:
It is necessary to indicate the number of problems, which you would like to
discuss. New problems are welcome too.

Organization Committee Chair
Valery Solovyev
Kazan State University, Russia
The Everaert's list of problems:
To begin with, the question what 'unsolved problems' there are in the
context of generative grammar is difficult to answered satisfactorily
because 'problems' only exist in the context of an explicit theory, and
theories change. That means that problems disappear or are created when new
theories arise. The minimalist program (Chomsky 1995) is a good case at
hand. Some of the basic assumptions in this model are so radically
from the 'standard' P&P model that we can almost start afresh, which means
that whatever was supposed to be solved, is either not a problem any more
has become a problem again.

Let me give an example. Binding Theory as we know it in generative grammar
has been an area in which much work has been done, and some progress has
been made. Still numerous issues remained far from resolved. In the
minimalist program the theoretical goal is that syntactic operations should
be driven only by purely formal and mechanical considerations, like
morphological features. Chomsky notes that "indices are basically the
expression of a relationship and they should be replaceable without loss by
a structural account of the relation they annotate". This has far-reaching
consequences on how a theory of anaphora should like. How are we to encode
binding in the computational system if computations are limited to a
morphology-based vocabulary, which excludes indices? (cf. Reuland, NELS

Below I have listed some issues that are mentioned in the context of the
research program of my own institute. The list below contains areas (both
more general and purely (morpho-)syntactic) in which we have gained some
insight but in which we have either successful but incompatible analyses,
just no satisfactory analysis (in random order and very limited):

- To what extent does first language acquisition differs from second
language acquisition, and what is the role of explicit instruction in the
- How is knowledge of different languages stored and accessed? Are they
mentally represented as separate systems, or largely identified, only being
different in fairly late options? 
- Is parameter setting an irrevocable act, or can the child resort to
previous or coexisting systems of grammatical knowledge?
- What is the relation between structure and word-order
- What is the status of the strict cycle, 
- What are the legitimate boundaries of the feature systems used in
syntactic computations. (Should, for instance, the syntactic codification
of notions such as referentiality, definiteness, familiarity, be allowed?)
- Why would natural languages have a contrast between anaphors and
pronominals at all? 
- What are the links between argument structure and properties of aspect
and/or event structure?
- What is the role of the feature specification for local binding of
- Is inherent reflexivity a unitary phenomenon, and is it correctly
understood as a lexical property? 
- Does 'morphological' computation differ from 'syntactic' computation, and
if so, what are the differences?
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Message 2: Slovene

Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 21:37:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Slovene

Does anyone know a good intermediate text for learning Slovene? I'm already
using Slovenscina: A Self-Study Course, published by RTV Ljubljana, which is
a good set of audio-lingual intro materials, but I don't know what to use for
more substantial work. Ideal for me would be one of those communist-era
grammar-translation texts used to prepare foreign students for university
study -- the type that starts with chapters like "My Home and Flat", "My
Daily Program" and ends with things like "Atoms Must Be Used for Peace".

In any case, any book with longer reading texts would be excellent. Any

James Kirchner
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