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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

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Discussion Details

Title: New: Review of 'Chomsky's Minimalism'
Submitter: Giuseppe G. A. Celano
Description: Read Review: http://linguistlist.org/issues/16/16-1890.html

This review is highly biased and evanescent, in that it lingers on
secondary/insignificant details, avoiding the actual core of Seuren’s
critique repeated all along the book:

in the Minimalist Program (and in general in "Mainstream Generative
Grammar") the semantic component is set at the end of the syntactic
derivation, which means that the computation is absurdly (in a realist
reading) or perversely (in an instrumentalist perspective) thought of as
not semantically driven (hence the appropriate definition of
"random-generator model").

The question is: how is it possible that the meaning of sentences FOLLOWS
their syntax? It is an empirical fact that humans first think what to say
and then speak. Language (and hence grammar) is a means to communicate
thoughts (that is, meanings) (in this respect, Chomsky 2002: 76-77 is
nonsense). Negating that semantics is before syntax goes against empirical
evidence. This is the question generativists should answer before disputing
about any other topic.

It must be admitted that Generative Grammar is becoming more and more
semantic and some more rational models have been proposed (such as multiple
spell-out models): notwithstanding, the fact remains that for someone to
have conceived of a grammatical model like that of MP (still largely
adopted) is just disconcerting.
Date Posted: 09-Sep-2008
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
LL Issue: 19.2747
Posted: 09-Sep-2008

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