Or, how to criticize a scientific theory Recently, I discovered a book called The Primacy of Grammar by philosopher Nirmalangshu Mukherji. The book is basically an extended, and in my opinion quite good, apologia for biolinguistics as a science. The book is very readable and covers a decent amount of ground, including an entire chapter … Continue reading Internal unity in science again
Hi all, I've been working on a paper for a few months and it's finally reached the point where I need to show it to some people who can tell me whether or not I'm crazy. To that end, I posted it on LingBuzz. It's called "A workspace-based theory of adjuncts," and be forewarned it's … Continue reading Self-Promotion: I posted a manuscript to Lingbuzz.
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.
The first half of chapter 2 was concerned with the broader theory of language, rather than a semantic theory. In the second half of the chapter, Katz begins his sketch of the theory of semantics. It's at this point that I pick up my review.
(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)
(Note: Unlike my previous posts, this one is not aimed at a general audience. this one’s for linguists) As a generative linguist, I like to think of myself as a scientist. Certainly, my field is not as mature and developed as physics, chemistry, and biology, but my fellow linguists and I approach language and its … Continue reading Instrumentalism in Linguistics
Over at Psychology Today, Vyv Evans, cognitive linguist and UG critic, has written a piece criticizing generative linguistics, and those who defend its practice. In particular he criticizes what he sees as the shape-shifting nature of UG. I don’t want to address the substance of Evans’ piece, but rather a rhetorical choice he makes, specifically, … Continue reading Tarring Universal Grammar with the Brexit brush
As I write this I am sitting in the Linguistics Department lounge at the University of Toronto. Grad students and Post-doctoral researchers are working, chatting, making coffee. Faculty members pop in every now and then, taking breaks from their work. It’s a vibrant department, full of researchers with varied skills and interests. There are those … Continue reading Don’t believe the rumours. Universal Grammar is alive and well.