Understanding Language: Towards a Post-Chomskyan Linguistics by Terence Moore

By Terence Moore

American ed. issued less than name: Language realizing.

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Furthermore, since the principles can be viewed as axioms in the forms of universal conditionals, then by substituting particular values for the 'variables' in the conditionals and by following the appropriate rules of inference, it is possible to predict whether, under the specified conditions, a body will float or not. Experiments can then test the accuracy of the prediction. An even greater degree of explanatory power is deemed to be achieved if a number of apparently independent universal principles can be shown to be deduced from still more abstract ones.

There is considerable evidence in the writings of the period that the North American descriptivists believed that the scientific method consisted in observing, collecting data and describing accurately, making use of only such terms 'as are derived by rigid definition from a set of everyday terms concerning physical happenings'. Joos wrote: . . we try to describe precisely; we do not try to explain. Anything in our description that sounds like explanation is simply loose talk ... ' (Joos, 1957a:349) J oos' almost contemptuous dismissal of explanation- 'simply loose talk' - in favour of accurate description appears to be a somewhat simplistic comment on a highly complex problem: the interaction between description and explanation in science.

Thus Alice left, Max cried and Max detested Alice are all sentences ofthe language. While the number of sentences has doubled, the number of sentence forms has remained the same. In general, there will be many fewer sentence forms, sequences of syntactic categories, than sentences, sequences ofwords, in the corpus. In this sense, the descriptivist is giving a compact one-one representation of the stock of utterances in the corpus. Syntactic analysis of this sort can be done at different levels of generality.

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