Two Minimalist Bones

Norbert Hornstein gives a very good overview of the perceived successes of the Minimalist Program here. (WARNING: this post won’t make a whole lot of sense unless you have a background in Generative Syntax.) One of the complaints you hear a lot about Minimalism – especially, for some reason, from the people who lament the…

For a Bigger Tent with many Booths

A post that’s been making the rounds in Generative Linguistics circles recently is Gillian Ramchand’s academic manifesto, explaining both why she identifies with the generative tradition in linguistics and what she thinks is wrong with the current state of debate over it. I agree with most of it. These are the things I would have…

Reindexing Assumptions

Generative Grammar has a kind of bad reputation among other Linguists – for a lot of reasons, really, some deserved, but most not. But I think if you boil down most of the criticisms, they amount to people just not feeling it in their gut. GG explanations for things rely on a lot of abstract…

Tough Movement is Tougher than you Think

Benjamin Bruening has an interesting squib in the fall 2014 issue of Linguistic Inquiry about "defective intervention." That’s when a phrase blocks a movement or agreement process even though it is incapable of participating in it.1 More accurately, "has been rendered" incapable of participating in it: in most examples taken to be instances of defective…

Eingedeutscht

"Anglicize." That’s our word for taking something from a foreign language and making it our own. Buried under reasonably obscure etymology as it is, it’s a pretty clinical word. The German counterpart – eindeutschen – is much cooler. Because the etymology is so transparent it’s not even etymology. ein just means in,into, and deutsch is…

People Goin’ ta Russia

Noah’s latest post links to an interesting entry on Language Log about sentences of the following type: More people have been to Russia than I have Pullum (on LL) calls this "plausible angloid gibberish" to reflect the fact that although the sentence passes most people’s intial syntax filter – that is, it seems grammatical to…

Academic Cults and Chomsky

Norbert Hornstein doesn’t like Gary Marcus’ recent piece on Noam Chomsky in The New Yorker, and it’s interesting why. From the comments (in this comment Hornstein is responding directly to a comment left by Marcus): To be evenhanded (at least in the New Yorker) it is essential to uncover character flaws of various types (extremely…

Pro Elegance – a vote of confidence

Noah has a blog entry called The End of Elegance. In it, he’s hoping that “elegance” will go away as a desideratum of Linguistic theory. Or, maybe not go away, but be relegated to lesser importance. Or … actually, it’s a little hard to tell exactly what he means – which is always the case…

This Time with a Quibble

Yes, well, we’re headed to a full-blown posts category for Bleeding Heart Libertarians, but today it’s just a quibble. Steve Horwitz posts, in response to Pete Boettke’s question of whether we need the “Bleeding Heart” in front of “Libertarians,” that we most emphatically do! – and that’s because otherwise people like Jeffrey Sachs will forget…

How not to fight Sexist Pronouns

I fully understand that there are two sides to the debate over whether “he” as universal pronoun in English is sexist. I also get that most people who care about such things (not necessarily the population as a whole) falls in the “it’s sexist camp.” Full disclosure: I’m in the “it’s harmless” camp, but I…