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Title: Re: A Challenge to the Minimalist Community
Submitter: Martha McGinnis
Description: Let me elaborate slightly on my response to the Sproat/Lappin

Though a ''smart car'' may be a better analogue to Minimalism,
Carson Sch├╝tze's Corvette/SUV analogy makes a crucial point: P&P is
designed to meet certain goals, so to challenge it to meet additional
goals is to ask, not for an achievement equivalent to that of statistical
parsing, but for something much better. This is one issue underlying
the suggestion to approach the challenge by means of constructive
collaboration. Minimalist syntacticians can't reasonably be expected
to leap at the chance to pour resources into a computational
challenge that even computational linguists have been unable to meet.

A second issue is what determines the course of intellectual inquiry.
Each of us rightly prefers to pursue the problems that seem both (a)
interesting to us, and (b) within our capacity to solve. For each of us,
there are many solvable questions that appear uninteresting, and
many interesting problems that appear beyond our capacity to solve.
Given that Sproat and Lappin have formulated their challenge as a
goal for others to meet, it would be easy to infer that they do not find it
sufficiently interesting or solvable to undertake themselves. If so, no
one else can reasonably be criticized for feeling the same way.

My sense is that the problem they pose *is* potentially interesting and
almost certainly solvable. Barring a lucky breakthrough, however, the
problem seems most likely to be solved via extensive collaboration
among computational linguists, psycholinguists, and syntacticians. If
Sproat and Lappin are indeed convinced that the problem is both
solvable and worth solving, I invite them to lead a collaborative project
to solve it.

Date Posted: 09-May-2005
Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics
Discipline of Linguistics
LL Issue: 16.1454
Posted: 09-May-2005

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