David, you criticized a blogpost that I wrote a while ago, where I said that Chomsky apparently changed his mind and no longer assumes a rich universal grammar (UG). I didn’t quite understand what you meant in your brief Twitter comments. I have been under the impression that in at least 20th century Principles & Parameters linguistics, the idea was that innate grammatical knowledge explains limits on diversity, and therefore analyses of particular languages should make use of the innate grammatical categories that we have hypothesized to exist (e.g. V, N, A according to Baker (2003), or the various functional heads hypothesized to be innate by Cinque (1999), and the various operations such as head movement and vocabulary insertion that are routinely used by MGG practitioners). Continue reading
Martin Haspelmath: Dan, you have shown an interest in my distinction between comparative concepts and descriptive categories, and you told me that you recently read my new paper “How comparative concepts and linguistic categories are different”. Can you say what you liked about it and how it relates to your own work?
Dan Slobin: I read your paper with great enthusiasm and pleasure. It makes your familiar argument precise, elegant, and, in my opinion, strongly convincing. Continue reading
(The following is a slightly edited conversation that took place on Facebook recently, on Roberta D’Alessandro’s page. There’s also one comment by Roberta. It’s reproduced here with permission.)
Martin Haspelmath (Reacting to a Facebook comment that it’s hard to understand the syntax of human languages): Syntax suddenly starts working if it’s framework-free! But I admit it may not be so cool…
Richard Larson: Same is true for physics! It suddenly “starts working” if you toss out all this silly theorizing about forces, particles and least effort principles! 🙂
Martin Haspelmath: Have you read my paper about framework-free theory, Richard? I’d be curious to hear what you’d say about it. I find the reasoning quite compelling, and I’d like to hear counterarguments. Continue reading