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Title: Limiting the Arbitrary
Written By: John E. Joseph
Series Title: Studies in the History of the Language Sciences 96

The idea that some aspects of language are 'natural', while others are arbitrary, artificial or derived, runs all through modern linguistics, from Chomsky's GB theory and Minimalist program and his concept of E- and I-language, to Greenberg's search for linguistic universals, Pinker's views on regular and irregular morphology and the brain, and the markedness-based constraints of Optimality Theory. This book traces the heritage of this linguistic naturalism back to its locus classicus, Plato's dialogue Cratylus. The first half of the book is a detailed examination of the linguistic arguments in the Cratylus. The second half follows three of the dialogue's naturalistic themes through subsequent linguistic history -- natural grammar and conventional words, from Aristotle to Pinker; natural dialect and artificial language, from Varro to Chomsky; and invisible hierarchies, from Jakobson to Optimality Theory - in search of a way forward beyond these seductive yet spurious and limiting dichotomies.

Publication Year: 2000
Publisher: John Benjamins
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Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
History of Linguistics
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 1556197497
ISBN-13: 9781556197499
Prices: U.S. $ 142
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9027245851
ISBN-13: N/A
Prices: NLG 134.00