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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Rethinking Syntactocentrism: Lessons from Recent Generative Approaches to Pragmatic Properties of Left-Periphery-Movement in German Add Dissertation
Author: Andreas Trotzke Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Universit├Ąt Freiburg, Hermann Paul Graduate School of Language Sciences
Completed in: 2010
Linguistic Subfield(s): Linguistic Theories; Syntax;
Subject Language(s): German
Director(s): Juergen Dittmann
Wolfgang Raible

Abstract: In this thesis, I show that Ray Jackendoff's notion of syntactocentrism is
misguided, since characterizing the concept this term refers to as a
dogmatic assumption that does not lend itself to participate in the general
field of mentalist linguistics does not do justice to both recent models of
mainstream generative grammar and to the conceptual consequences of
applying these concepts to specific phenomena like the pragmatics of
left-periphery-movement in German.

Chapter 1 approaches the notion of syntactocentrism by sketching its
initial conception in the 1950s and 1960s. I clarify why even Jackendoff
considers this nascent perspective on grammatical knowledge to be a quite
reasonable view, given the by-then available approaches to phonology and
semantics. In chapter 2, I amend Jackendoff's claim that recent
syntactocentrism ignores progress in both phonology and semantics and
entirely dispenses with formal accounts of these components. Chapter 3
demonstrates that Jackendoff misses another crucial point in his
discussions of syntactocentrism by marginalizing and sometimes even
ignoring significant changes involved in the recent shift from
representational to derivational syntactocentrism. Based on this up-to-date
notion of syntactocentrism, chapter 4 shows two theoretical alternatives to
syntactocentrism: Cognitive Linguistics and the Parallel Architecture. I
point out that bridging the gulf between syntactocentrism and its
theoretical alternatives is not inconceivable but a quite realistic
enterprise. I finish this chapter by arguing in favor of a comparison of
the syntactocentric view with its alternatives in light of the amended
notion of syntactocentrism developed in chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 5
undertakes such a comparison with respect to the Parallel Architecture and
shows that, once the consequences of the recent changes within
syntactocentrism are taken seriously, some points of convergence between
recent syntactocentrism and the Parallel Architecture can be demonstrated.
I reduce the comparison of recent syntactocentrism and the Parallel
Architecture to tractable size and thus focus on the analysis of one
specific phenomenon, namely the pragmatics of left-periphery-movement in
German. I argue that the strong derivational view of syntactocentrism
implies significant points of convergence with conceptual aspects of the
Parallel Architecture. First, both approaches share the assumption that a
direct interaction between phonology and semantic interpretation is
required in order to deal with phenomena like prosodically-expressed focus
or contrast. Second, both models imply that this interaction is established
by pragmatic rather than by syntactic factors and, third, both accounts
regard pragmatics as an independent component. In order to look also for
convergence between recent syntactocentrism and Cognitive Linguistics,
chapter 6 compares an approach to language evolution that is based on the
general conception of derivational syntax exemplified in chapter 5 with an
account that is associated with concepts of Cognitive Linguistics. I
highlight that both the Computational and the Communicative view regard
recursive operations of the mind as a sine qua non for the emergence of
grammar and that both accounts postulate a representational format that
contains these recursive operations. In chapter 7, I conclude by
summarizing the main results of this thesis and by turning to the question
whether these results vindicate the notion of syntactocentrism as used by