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Fundamentals: Linguistic principles

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1 Fundamentals: Linguistic principles

2 Grammatical features of all languages
Initially we need a definition of grammar. Based on our thinking about the comparable structures of two kinds of creole (English and French) we can make a pretty good start.

3 What is grammar? I’ll start, you finish.
A system of rules based on patterns. Structures that a predictable, that contain patterns, that convey meaning in a consistent way. What should we add?

4 According to the text, grammatical features consist of
Patterning Morphology Phrase structures Linguistic productivity

5 The importance of patterning
We have to connect this to our need for predictability. Without consistent and reliable forms, the ability to use language to share meaning would be impossible. How many kinds of patterns then are we really talking about?

6 Fundamental patterns This was in a way Chomsky’s starting point.
Word order Negation Modality Mood Number and plurality Agency Action A number of other logical strategies are needed and must be available as predictable forms, patterns.

7 Morphological regularity
As reading specialists you can do a better job of defining what this is and why it is important. Let’s go back to the example of Haitian Creole Li mache (il marche) Li te mache (il y’a marche) Li t’ap mache (l y’avait marche)

8 Linguistic productivity
Another consideration of Chomsky in the early stages of theory development was the observation that an infinite number of sentences are possible in any language. Yet there are not an infinite number of rules. The combinatorial ability of language users leads to linguistic productivity.

9 More Hence, Chomsky argued: Language is creative
Language is rule governed Rules make meaning possible (intelligibility) A small number of rules produce an infinite number of sentences, or language productions A weak theory of linguistic adequacy is more probable than a strong theory Language rules are innate and language is underdetermined in order to explain its infinite yet meaningful forms

10 American Sign Language
What lessons have we learned about the reality of ASL (understanding and use)? Iconicity has declined over 200 years, indicating that as a language form it is created by its users. What do they use to create it? Compare this to Bikerton’s observation that we can actually track the development and change in Creoles worldwide.

11 ASL provides additional interesting questions
Are there differences in spoken versus signed languages that tell us more about the nature of language itself? What does the role of the environment appear to be? How does ASL reinforce Chomsky’s view? How does ASL contradict it?

12 Transformational Grammar TG
Chomsky actually modified his theory several times before he got to the theory of transformational grammar. He started out with a theory of a language base that contained kernel grammars. His students challenged him over and over again to account for the role of phonology and meaning (semantics). H He eventually crafted the TG model in response to their concerns.

13 Evolution of models A base structure contains linguistic rules that are universal and are used to generate an infinite number of sentences that are meaningful. Any observable differences in the realm of sound, word use, skill or number of grammatical features is relegated to surface structure.

14 Surface structure will always show individual and group differences.
It can be used as data to make inferences about the inner state of linguistic competence It is unsuitable for a theory of language because it is generally undependable, patterns are not consistent. Surface structure must be understood as performance not competence.

15 Accounting for sound and meaning
To make a long story short, Chomsky was willing to concede that both phonology and semantics are additional sources of rules that might belong in the deep structure. So the deep structure would have to welcome new neighbors or change in a dramatic way.

16 What happened next Chomsky allowed only syntax in the deep structure, but distinguished syntax from “grammar”. He considered it likely that there were also phonological and semantic grammars, but would not admit them to the deep structure. Instead he defined their role in terms of translation rules that translated syntax into recognizable surface forms, because of the phonological and semantic adaptations that would have to occur.

17 Now what was on the surface?
Only spoken language was on the surface. It was generated by the interaction of deep structures and translation rules. In other words, you had cognitive competence to understand and use rules governing sound and meaning. But it was unclear how much was learned from the environment per se.

18 Transformational grammar In any war between the old and the young, the young will win.
Finally Chomsky’s theory become more complex. A variety of subsystems for generating and comprehending language were described as working from the deep structure. Chomsky’s theory now was an overdetermined one. His students won. They changed the dialog to a discussion of semantics and put semantics in the deep structure

19 How much is learned? how much is innate?
The research of the ’60’s and ’70’s turned with relish to this question. Research began to look at The early language of children of parents who were non-native speakers of English Longitudinal grammars of children and their speech in structured and unstructured contexts The early language of children of deaf parents, and of deaf children with hearing parents The early language of children of parents who were deficient as models of adult speech

20 One last note. Lexical functional grammar
This is more than an esoteric point Bresnan and Jackendorff are responsible for shifting focus to a deep structure that contains a lexicon rather than a syntactic base The lexicon contains not only words It contains logical rules for manipulating these words Why is this important?

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