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qwallath

Qwallath

Hi, I'm Oscar, a historical linguist from the Netherlands who also likes to write about music, games, and history. Check out my longer blog posts and other writings on Sub Specie.

Currently reading

Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo
Mary Douglas
Signs: an Introduction to Semiotics
Thomas A. Sebeok, Marcel Danesi
Language and Space
Lynn Nadel, Mary A. Peterson, Paul Bloom

Syntactic Structures (Anua Linguarum Series Minor 4, Series Volume 4)

Syntactic Structures (Janua Linguarum, #4) - Noam Chomsky A difficult book to review... On the one hand I admire Chomsky's ability to think out of the box in a period (the fifties... long time ago already!) where the rest of linguistics was perhaps staying in that same box a bit too much. He looks at the description of language in a fresh new way which offers all scholars of language food for thought.

Nevertheless, as a modern linguist, I can't help but see this book as 'the one that started it all', by which I mean many decades of linguistics based on a certain assumption that has yet to be proven - Universal Grammar. It's a construct, and the abstract way in which it is treated in generative linguistics gives our study a scientific air, as if we were studying types of rocks. The study of grammar (as opposed to meaning, or even actual language use) is promoted to be the main object of study.

Somehow, I think linguistics would have been better off if other areas of study (phonetics, morphology, dialectology, sociolinguistics) had become or remained equally 'hip'. Sadly, they did not, and only in recent times is some of the damage being repaired...