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Manual Logics for linguistic structures

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It is a short monograph of about a hundred pages, written for specialists in linguistics. Chomsky based it on the lecture notes he had prepared for his students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For Chomsky, the study of syntax is thus independent of semantics the study of meaning. Chomsky wrote Syntactic Structures when he was still an unknown scholar. It was even considered a welcome addition [12] to the existing tradition of language study. It became normal to build more formal theories with syntax at their center.

This way of study valued language's place in the mind over language behavior. Syntactic Structures has influenced fields outside linguistics. It had a big impact on the study of knowledge , mind and mental processes.

It also had a smaller effect on the research on computers and brain. They think it is wrong to describe language as an ideal system. They also say it gives less value to the gathering and testing of data. They recognized it as one of the most important studies of the 20th century. Chomsky's interest in language started at an early age. When he was twelve, he studied Hebrew grammar under his father.

Harris was an established linguist. He did research in the way laid out by American linguist Leonard Bloomfield. He soon decided to major in the subject. For his thesis, Chomsky set out to apply Harris's methods to Hebrew.

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Following Harris's advice, he studied logic , philosophy , and mathematics. Quine [note 20] and Rudolf Carnap. It used symbols and rules that did not refer to meaning. From there on, Chomsky tried to build a grammar of Hebrew. Such a grammar would generate the phonetic or sound forms of sentences.

To this end, he organized Harris's methods in a different way. These are rules that refer back to themselves. He also found that there were many different ways of presenting the grammar. He tried to develop a method to measure how simple a grammar is. He then published a revised and expanded version of it as his master's thesis in During his fellowship, Chomsky organized all his ideas into a huge manuscript.

It was around 1, typewritten pages long. In , Chomsky found a job at MIT. He worked there as a linguist in the mechanical translation project. The university granted him a Ph. In fact, it was just the ninth chapter of LSLT. In , Chomsky had a doctorate in linguistics. Even so, he struggled at first to publish his theory and views on language.

He also saw a paper promptly rejected by the academic linguistics journal WORD. His reviews and articles at the time were mostly published in non-linguistic journals. They had gained academic reputation by publishing works on Slavic Studies since Soon they started a new series called Janua Linguarum or the "Gate of Languages. It was called Fundamentals of Language , published in In , Chomsky and Halle collaborated to write an article on phonology, published in a festschrift for Jakobson.

Cornelis van Schooneveld was the editor of the Janua Linguarum series at Mouton. He was a Dutch linguist and a direct student of Jakobson. Consequently, he visited Chomsky at MIT in With Morris Halle's and possibly Jakobson's mediation, [27] Chomsky showed van Schooneveld his notes for his introductory linguistics course for undergraduate students.

Van Schoonefeld took an interest in them. He offered to publish an elaborate version of them at Mouton, to which Chomsky agreed. Chomsky then prepared a manuscript of the right size no longer than pages [note 30] that would fit the series. After revising an earlier manuscript, Chomsky sent a final version in the first week of August in to van Schooneveld.

These gave more incentives to Mouton to publish the book. Mouton finally published Chomsky's monograph titled Syntactic Structures in the second week of February Soon after the book's first publication, Bernard Bloch , editor of the prestigious journal Language , gave linguist Robert Benjamin Lees , a colleague of Chomsky's at MIT, the opportunity to write a review of the book.

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Lees's very positive [note 33] essay-length review appeared in the July—September issue of Language. Shortly thereafter the book created a putative " revolution " in the discipline. Syntactic Structures was the fourth book in the Janua Linguarum series. It was the series's bestselling book.

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It was reprinted 13 times until In Syntactic Structures , Chomsky tries to construct a "formalized theory of linguistic structure". He places emphasis on "rigorous formulations" and "precisely constructed models". He then talks about the goals of syntactic study.

For Chomsky, a linguist's goal is to build a grammar of a language.

Linguistic Micro-Lectures: Predications and Predicates

He defines grammar as a device which produces all the sentences of the language under study. Secondly, a linguist must find the abstract concepts beneath grammars to develop a general method. This method would help select the best possible device or grammar for any language given its corpus. Finally, a linguistic theory must give a satisfactory description of all the levels of language analysis. Examples of these levels include sounds , words and sentence structures. The second chapter is titled "The Independence of Grammar".

In it, Chomsky states that a language is "a set A linguist should separate the "grammatical sequences" or sentences of a language from the "ungrammatical sequences". It is also "recall[ed] much more quickly" and "learn[ed] much more easily". Chomsky then analyzes further about the basis of "grammaticality.

First, a grammatical sentence need not be included in a corpus. Secondly, it need not be meaningful. Finally, it does not have to be statistically probable. Chomsky shows all three points using a nonsensical sentence " Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. But it is not included in any known corpus at the time and is neither meaningful nor statistically probable.

Chomsky concludes that "grammar is autonomous and independent of meaning. British linguist Marcus Tomalin stated that a version of "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" was suggested decades earlier by Rudolf Carnap. In the third chapter titled "An Elementary Linguistic Theory", Chomsky tries to determine what sort of device or model gives an adequate account of a given set of "grammatical" sentences.

He then considers finite state grammar , a communication theoretic model [note 36] which treats language as a Markov process. As a solution, he introduces transformational generative grammar TGG , "a more powerful model Chomsky's transformational grammar has three parts: phrase structure rules , transformational rules and morphophonemic rules.

These yield a string of morphemes. A transformational rule "operates on a given string Obligatory transformations applied on the "terminal strings" of the grammar produce the "kernel of the language". To produce passive, negative, interrogative or complex sentences, one or more optional transformation rules must be applied in a particular order to the kernel sentences. At the final stage of the grammar, morphophonemic rules convert a string of words into a string of phonemes.

In Syntactic Structures , the term "transformation" was borrowed from the works of Zellig Harris. Harris was Chomsky's initial mentor. Harris used the term "transformation" to describe equivalence relations between sentences of a language.


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By contrast, Chomsky's used the term to describe a formal rule applied to underlying structures of sentences. Chomsky also borrowed the term "generative" from a previous work of mathematician Emil Post. When he says a finite set of rules "generate" i. In the sixth chapter titled "On the Goals of Linguistic Theory", Chomsky writes that his "fundamental concern" is "the problem of justification of grammars".

He compares a finite corpus of utterances of a particular language to " observations ". He likens grammatical rules to " laws " which are stated in terms of "hypothetical constructs" such as phonemes , phrases , etc. To choose the best possible grammar for a given corpus of a given language, Chomsky shows his preference for the "evaluation procedure" which uses the aforementioned criteria.

He rejects the "discovery procedure" [note 39] employed in structural linguistics and supposed to automatically and mechanically produce the correct grammar of a language from a corpus [note 40]. He also dismisses the "decision procedure" supposed to automatically choose the best grammar for a language from a set of competing grammars. In the seventh chapter titled "Some Transformations in English", Chomsky strictly applies his just-proposed transformation-based approach on some aspects of English.

He treats at length the formation of English negative passive sentences, yes-no and wh- interrogative sentences, etc. He claims in the end that transformational analysis can describe "a wide variety of In the eighth chapter titled "The explanatory power of linguistic theory", Chomsky writes a linguistic theory cannot content itself by just generating valid grammatical sentences.

It also has to account for other structural phenomena at different levels of linguistic representation. At a certain linguistic level, there can be two items which can be understood having different meanings but they are structurally indistinguishable within that level. The relevant ambiguity can be resolved by establishing a higher level of linguistic analysis.


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At this higher level, the two items can be clearly shown having two different structural interpretations. In this way, constructional homonymities at the phonemic level can be resolved by establishing the level of morphology, and so forth. One of the motivation of establishing a distinct, higher level of linguistic analysis is, then, to explain the structural ambiguity due to the constructional homonymities at a lower level.

On the other hand, each linguistic level also captures some structural similarities within the level that are not explained in lower levels. Chomsky uses this argument as well to motivate the establishment of distinct levels of linguistic analysis. Chomsky then shows that a grammar which analyzes sentences up to the phrase structure level contains many constructional homonymities at the phrase structure level where the resulting ambiguities need to be explained at a higher level.

He further claims that any phrase structure grammar which cannot explain these ambiguities as successfully as transformational grammar does must be considered "inadequate". In the ninth chapter titled "Syntax and Semantics", Chomsky reminds that his analysis so far has been "completely formal and non-semantic. He concludes that the correspondence between meaning and grammatical form is "imperfect", "inexact" and "vague.

Logic and Linguistics

He shows that in order to build a theory of phonemic distinction based on meaning would entail "complex", "exhaustive" and "laborious investigation" of an "immense", "vast corpus ". Randy Allen Harris, a specialist of the rhetoric of science , writes that Syntactic Structures "appeals calmly and insistently to a new conception" of linguistic science. He finds the book "lucid, convincing, syntactically daring, the calm voice of reason Chomsky not only makes a logical appeal i.

It combined simple phrase structure rules with a simple transformational rule. This treatment was based entirely on formal simplicity. Keith Brown, "the elegance and insightfulness of this account was instantly recognized, and this was an important factor in ensuring the initial success of the transformational way of looking at syntax. Raymond Oenbring, a doctorate in the rhetoric of science, thinks that Chomsky "overstates the novelty" of transformational rules. He "seems to take all the credit for them" even though a version of them had already been introduced by Zellig Harris in a previous work.

He writes that Chomsky himself was "cautious" to "display deference" to prevailing linguistic research. His enthusiastic followers such as Lees were, by contrast, much more "confrontational". They sought to drive a "rhetorical wedge" between Chomsky's work and that of post-Bloomfieldians i. American linguists in the s et s , arguing that the latter does not qualify as linguistic "science".

In an early review of the book, American structural linguist Charles F. Quatrini , J. Thematic presentation : Linguists and logicians tried to specify grammars as logical theories. As compared to the traditional linguistics, the advantage of the logical approach is that we can prove important properties of the grammars such as soundness, completeness and consistency. Girard has introduced linear logic as a resource sensitive logic.


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The basic feature of linear logic that is essential for linguistic applications, is the absence of contraction and weakening rules. But the unlimited commutativity rule is not acceptable from the linguistic point of view either. If we do not allow the commutativity rule at all, we strongly restrict the expressive power to generate natural languages.

One of the promising approaches among various extensions and generalizations of Lambek grammars is to use proof nets technics inspired by linear logic. This "Linguistics and logic" workshop aims at bringing together logicians, linguists, and computational scientists to discuss the problems of logical applications to linguistics.

Preregistration : on the Geocal06 site. Deadline: October 30,