- Part of a Book (3) (remove)
- Semiotactics as a Van Wijngaarden grammar (1984)
- 1. There are two classes of theories of Universal Grammar: (1) Formalist theories, such as the widespread varieties of generative grammar. These theories start from the assumption that certain strings of linguistic forms are grammatical while other strings are ungrammatical. A grammar of this type produces grammatical strings and does not produce ungrammatical ones. All theories of this class fail in the same respect: they do not account for the meaning of the strings. (2) Semiotactic theories, which describe the meaning of a string in terms of the meanings of its constituent forms and their interrelations. The only elaborate formalized theory of this class presently available is the one advanced by C.L. Ebeling (Syntax and Semantics, Leiden: Brill, 1978). I shall discuss some of its mathematical properties here.
- Early dialectal diversity in South Slavic II (2003)
- Twenty years ago I discussed the oldest isoglosses in the South Slavic linguistic area (1982). Subscribing to Van Wijk’s view that the bundle of isoglosses which separates Bulgarian from Serbo-Croatian was the result of an early split in South Slavic and that the transitional dialects originated from a later mixture of Serbian and Bulgarian dialects when the contact between the two languages had been restored (1927), I argued that the shared innovations of Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian must be dated to a period when the dialects were still spoken in the original Trans-Carpathian homeland of the Slavs. I concluded that there is no evidence for common innovations of South Slavic which were posterior to the end of what I have called the Late Middle Slavic period, which I dated to the 4th through 6th centuries AD. At that time, the major dialect divisions of Slavic were already established.
- Bad theory, wrong conclusions: M. Halle on Slavic accentuation (2003)
- Twenty years ago (1983), I severely criticized Halle and Kiparsky’s review (1981) of Garde’s history of Slavic accentuation (1976). I concluded that Halle and Ki-parsky’s theoretical framework “rests upon an unwarranted limitation of the available evidence, obscures the chronological perspective, and yields results which are partly not new and partly incorrect. It is harmful because it does not give the facts their proper due and thereby blocks the road to empirical study, giving a free hand to unrestrained speculation” (1983: 40). As Halle has recently returned to the subject (2001), it may be interesting to see if there has been some progress in his thinking over the last two decades. In the following I shall try to avoid repeating what I have said in my earlier discussion.