Picking up on a unfollowed line of reasoning from my last post, I'd like to argue what might seem like a bold claim: The only practical way to make any discoveries or advances in any science, including syntax, is by starting with the theory. First let me head off a possible objection, namely the Kuhnian … Continue reading Theory first, then description
Recently, I found myself reading Edmund Husserl's Logical Investigations. I didn't make it that far into it---the language is rather abstruse---but included in the fragments of what I did read was a section in which Husserl clarified something that I've been thinking about recently, which is the place of theory in a science. In the … Continue reading What kind of a science is Generative Syntax?
Over on his blog, Colin Phillips has taken up the age-old theory vs experiment debate. The position he seems to take is that the contrast between theory and experiment is illusory and, therefore, the debate itself is wrong-headed. Here he is making what seems to be his main point: There’s a terminological point here that … Continue reading Colin Phillips on the Theory/Experiment divide.
It's the end of the year, which means it's Best Of the Year season. I don't think I saw enough movies, discovered enough new music, read enough books, or watched enough TV shows this year to make a Top 5 list for any of those mediums. What's more, some of culture that I most enjoyed … Continue reading My Top Culture Things of 2019
As I mentioned previously, I'm not very comfortable with the presence of US Customs and Border Protection agents in Canadian airports. I recently found out that the situation just got much worse. In a piece for the CBC, H.M. Jocelyn, a Rutgers PhD candidate, reports on recent amendments to the Canada-United States Preclearance Agreement, the … Continue reading Another bit of sovereignty surrendered at the US Border
I've long been uncomfortable with the fact that US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) operates in major Canadian airports like Toronto Pearson. I don't recall when it occurred to me that the idea of USCBP operating within Canada was odd, but I haven't been able to shake the idea. Certainly, USCBP didn't endear themselves to … Continue reading Should USCBP be operating in Canadian airports?
It's been a little while since I've blogged here, and that's because, for the past few weeks, I've been preparing for an event that occurred yesterday---I successfully defended my dissertation Explaining the resultative parameter. Better acknowledgements are coming, but for now I want to thank everyone who had a hand in this achievement, from my … Continue reading A bit of personal news
(AKA Katz's Semantic Theory (Part IIIa). This post discusses chapter 2 of Jerrold Katz's 1972 opus. For my discussion of chapter 1, go here.) Having delineated in chapter 1 which questions a semantic theory ought to answer, Katz goes on in chapter 2 to sketch the sort of answer that a such a theory would give. … Continue reading On the general character of semantic theory (Part a)
If you've taken a semantics course in the past decade or two, or read an introductory textbook on the topic published in that time span, you probably encountered, likely at the outset, the question What is meaning? followed almost immediately with a fairly pat answer. In my experience, the answer given to that question was reference1---the meaning of an expression, say dog, is the set of things in the world that that expression refers to, the set of all dogs in this case.
It is very much in vogue today to assume that features in the lexicon can freely vary along two dimensions: interpretability and value (Pesetsky and Torrego 2007). This gives us four possible forms of syntactic features shown below.(1) The typology of Formal Features Interpretable?YNValued?YiF:valuF:valNiF:__uF:__This is in contrast to a more traditional view, that of Chomsky, … Continue reading A note on expanded feature typologies