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

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Wednesday, November 22, 2000, 5:11
Yoon Ha Lee wrote:

>I have this terrible image of bears crashing through your neural system...<G>
I don't mind the pandas as much as the kodiaks. :)
>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...
> > 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. 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.
> 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.
=============================== Marcus Smith AIM: Anaakoot "When you lose a language, it's like dropping a bomb on a museum." -- Kenneth Hale ===============================