Explanatory Models in Linguistics

Explanatory Models in Linguistics: A Behavioral Perspective

Pere Julià
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    Explanatory Models in Linguistics
    Book Description:

    Pere Julia questions the recourse of contemporary linguists, psycholinguists, and philosophers to an idealized speaker-listener and maintains that there is no way to be sure of the organizing principles for linguistic data other than going to the sources of these data, i.e., speakers, listeners, and the circumstances under which they interact in actual situations.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5794-4
    Subjects: Linguistics, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    Pere Julià
    (pp. xi-2)

    Contemporary students of language have two courses open to them: they can approach the subject matter as a natural phenomenon or they can consider it a formal object. In the first case, the relevant techniques of analysis are those of behavioral science. Language is behavior. An effective treatment requires that the activity of speaker and listener be systematically related to the independent variables of which it is a function. If, on the other hand, they choose to study language as an object, they must be aware of certain self-imposed limitations. Basic among these is the fact that they are not...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Psycholinguistic Context
    (pp. 3-18)

    Scientific progress requires the realistic demarcation of fields of inquiry. Yet there is often a certain degree of arbitrariness associated with the delimitation of related topics, as the proliferation of ʺhyphenatedʺ disciplines—say, biochemistry, astrophysics, neurophysiology, etc.—in recent decades clearly attests. Sciences with a long-standing tradition or a reasonably well-established set of procedures, techniques, and vocabulary, combine their independent knowledge in order to solve borderline problems more effectively. Sometimes a new and relatively autonomous field emerges out of this interdisciplinary contact.

    There is a fundamental difference, however, between this sort of cooperation, where the contributing sciences have already proved...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Structuralist Background
    (pp. 19-41)

    The development of modern structural linguistics can be mainly characterized, in its early stages, not only by such theoretical distinctions as de Saussureʹslangueversusparole, diachrony versus synchrony, and so on, but also (especially in the United States) as an attempt to work out descriptive techniques devoid of commitments to a priori philosophies of language or the classical grammatical paradigms. The fact that many early exponents of the new trend in America were also anthropologists greatly contributed to the initial thrust of the movement: the application of the grammatical systems of Greek and Latin to unwritten, unknown, and often...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Transformational-Generative Proposal
    (pp. 42-64)

    Chomskyʹs more permanent (for some, irreversible) contribution to linguistics, by many accounts, lies in the mathematical rigor of his strictly formal work on the properties of grammars. It is probably equally safe to say that the overall impact of the transformational-generative proposal stems from claims regarding the relevance of its descriptive framework for a general theory of language. But although the precision afforded by the application of techniques from finite automata theory and recursive function theory was no doubt useful to Chomskyʹs original work, it has ultimately proved less than beneficial as the persuasive cogency of the resulting theory has...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Explanatory Models
    (pp. 65-92)

    The full extent of the explanatory power proposal became clear later (Chomsky, 1962a). The same arguments, more technically explicit, can be found in Chomsky and Miller (1963), Chomsky (1963), and Miller and Chomsky (1963), included in a handbook of mathematical psychology ʺto make psychologists more realistically aware of what it is a person has accomplished when he has learned to speak and understand a natural languageʺ (Luce et al. 1963, pp. 271-272). (Where no reference is given, quotations in this chapter can be understood to come from this 1962 statement;¹ otherwise, pages cited are those in the 1963 handbook. Section...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Subsequent Refinements
    (pp. 93-109)

    Later technical modifications did not alter the basic nature of the explanatory power proposal. If anything, they strengthened it. The need to bring semantics—loosely identified so far, as we have seen, with the ʺuse of languageʺ—more intimately into the picture did much to consolidate previous built-in biases. It is customary to trace subsequent refinements to the explicit formulation ofAspects of the Theory of Syntax(Chomsky, 1965) and to refer to this version of TGG as the ʺstandard theory.ʺ It is this formulation that has had a lasting impact among psycholinguists and psychologists. It will be well therefore...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Performance and Competence
    (pp. 110-125)

    A brief quotation may serve as a fairly comprehensive summary of Chomskyʹs position and as a baseline for further examining the tenability of the competence/performance distinction:

    If the conclusions of this research are anywhere near correct, then humans must be endowed with a very rich and explicit set of mental attributes that determine a specific form of language on the basis of very slight and rather degenerate data. Furthermore, they make use of the mentally represented language in a highly creative way, constrained by its rules but free to express new thoughts that relate to past experience or present sensations...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Mentalism in Linguistics
    (pp. 126-142)

    While probably useful for demarcating the subject matter of linguistic theory as presently conceived, the notion of abstract study has relegated linguistics to the realm of speculative knowledge to an unprecedented degree. Chomsky (1972) writes:

    This process of abstraction is in no way illegitimate, but one must understand that it expresses a point of view, a hypothesis about the nature of mind, that is not a priori obvious. It expresses the working hypothesis that we can proceed with the study of ʺknowledge of languageʺ—what is called ʺlinguistic competenceʺ—in abstraction from the problems of how language is used. The...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 143-203)
    (pp. 204-218)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 219-228)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 229-230)