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Re: THEORY: OT Syntax (Was: Re: THEORY: phonemes and Optimality Theory tutorial)

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 22, 2000, 12:55
On Tue, 21 Nov 2000, Marcus Smith wrote:

> Yoon Ha Lee wrote: > > >Well, I imagine there are an awful lot of things in linguistics to study, > >and things will inevitably fall between the cracks! <wry g> A Good > >Thing for linguists writing dissertations? > > Very good thing. Now if only people would do it...
Wrong major. <deep sigh>
> > > The Syntactic Phenomena of English, by James McCawley. > > > > > > This last one is the most complete grammar of English I've ever seen. I > > > have professors who re-read it regularly. > > > >Thanks for the recs! Does that last book explain the article system > >particularly well? > > Not that I recall. > > > Despite the efforts of the Writing Workshop's > >linguist-in-residence, Judy Pierpont, we writing tutors *still* can't > >explain everything about the article system to foreign-language native > >speakers. :-( > > McCawley's book may not be what you are looking for in that respect. For > one thing, he describes English as it is, not as an English instructor > would want it to be. He is definitely not prescriptive.
<wry g> That's actually a good thing. (But if articles *were* covered in gruesome detail it would've been convenient for me. <wry g>) I would *like* to see how English-as-used (rather than as-prescribed) looks like when dissected. It's appalling how little formal English grammar I know. :-/
> He also has a rather unique way of doing syntax in some ways. He does > things that would make a hard-core Chomskyan scream out in protest.
I don't know enough Chomsky to be a Chomskyan, so this won't be a problem....
> > Especially to Asian-language speakers who think that > >articles are redundant and confusing to begin with (if I weren't fluent > >in English I would tend to agree) because they're not used to articles. :-/ > > I understand the point of view. I'm studying Pima right now, and its > determiner system is leaving me confused. The article 'heg' never modifies > a noun before the auxiliary, but modifies almost all of them after the > verb. But so far it seems to be completely optional. It gets used with > nouns and names. But sometimes there is a demonstrative instead of 'heg', > and I'm not sure if there is a reason or if my consultant just feels like > translating things that way. Very perplexing. Very fun.
<wry g> A friend asked me how we get by in Korean without articles, and I told her, if you really want to emphasize a specific something, you stick in a demonstrative. YHL