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

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Monday, November 20, 2000, 20:04
On Sat, 18 Nov 2000, Marcus Smith wrote:

> Yoon Ha Lee wrote: > > >Oddness! Are brainwave patterns used to corroborate other kinds of > >findings? Is this a common way of researching things in linguistics, or...? > > The neurological activity associated with language is an active area of > research among linguists. One of my best friends is writing her Master's > thesis on some topic in lateralization in children's brains. Generally > speaking, however, this kind of research does not corroborate linguistic > theories. Mainly because what neurolinguists and psycholinguists study are > not directly relevant to syntactic and phonological theories. Some > interesting things have been found, none-the-less.
[snip] And I thought I'd never be interested in neurobiology. I sometimes regret not paying more attention to HS biology. (I declined to take IBH biology after seeing what a lab practical was like...) Foundations are good to have. <sigh>
> Take a sentence like "The man admired Don's sketch of the landscape." You > cannot say *"The man admired Don's of sketch the landscape". This type of > ungrammaticality is what syntacticians have been calling a "Phrase > Structure Violation" for decades. Now, if you attach electrodes to a
Stupid question: so there are analogously ungrammatical sentences in other languages, or perhaps better stated, there *isn't* a language in which a construction like the starred one above *is* grammatical?
> There are a few other cases like this. Without going into what they are, > there is brainwave evidence for Subjacency, thematic selection, and > specificity conditions. Even more interesting: syntacticians claim all > three (four, counting the phrase structure violation above) of these things > are separate entities, and the brain's reaction to each is completely > different as well, suggesting that they are indeed distinct, identifiable > processes. I believe there is similar work on phonology as well, but (I'm > ashamed to admit) I paid less attention to those parts of the articles.
I must learn more about syntax after I find out more about phonology/phonetics. :-) I'll have to check out the Gray Wizard's list of recommended books. Cornell U.'s campus store selection is pretty lousy in linguistics--a shame because I like being able to *own* things I'm going to refer to again and again. But I ought to have better luck finding some of those recommended books in the library. Thanks for the fascinating information! YHL