Year of publication
- Bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Sprache die Grenzen meiner Welt? (2008)
- Daß die Sprache Voraussetzung und Grundlage für die Gesamtheit menschlicher Vollzüge und kultureller Gestaltung ist, dieser Gedanke ist nicht erst in der sprachanalytischen Philosophie des 20. Jahrhunderts zum Thema geworden. Allerdings nimmt er hier mit der These von der Unhintergehbarkeit der Sprache, also der Feststellung, daß nur in der Sprache die Grundlagen der Sprache behandelt und geklärt werden können, einen zentralen Platz ein. Aber die Reihe der Vorläufer ist lang. Herder etwa hatte befunden "Ohne Sprache hat der Mensch keine Vernunft, und ohne Vernunft keine Sprache." (1772), und Heidegger hat in seiner raunenden Art die Sprache zum "Haus des Seins" (1947) erklärt. Über die möglichen Grenzen dieses unhintergehbaren Mediums haben auf sehr unterschiedliche Weise Ludwig Wittgenstein und Samuel Beckett gegrübelt. Die Titelfrage dieses Beitrags beruht auf Wittgensteins These 5. 6 in der Logisch-philosophischen Abhandlung: Die Grenzen meiner Sprache bedeuten die Grenzen meiner Welt.
- Linguistik, Poetik, Ästhetik (2008)
- The paper briefly summarizes the proposal made in 1965 that "Poetic Competence" is the basis for creating and evaluating poetry. That this competence lives on, but is different from linguistic competence is exemplified by a close look at the segmental and supra-segmental, morpho-syntactic, lexical, and conceptual structure of Hölderlin's poem "An Zimmern", revealing a surprisingly complex and balanced structure of the apparently simple four lines. The second part of the paper discusses the question whether judgments about poetry are to be studied as based on the relation between specific properties of poems and persons. Finally the problem is raised, whether literary art is based on a specific Poetic Competence, or instantiates a general aesthetic ability applied to linguistic objects. This is construed as a speculative, but still empirical question.
- Semantic form as interface (2007)
- The term interface had a remarkable career over the past several decades, motivated largely by its use in computer science. Although the concept of a "surface common to two areas" (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, 1980) is intuitively clear enough, the range of its application is not very sharp and well defined, a "common surface" is open to a wide range of interpretations.
- Thematic roles – universal, particular, and idiosyncratic aspects (2006)
- Thematic Roles (or Theta-Roles) are theoretical constructs that account for a variety of well known empirical facts, which are more or less clearly delimited. In other words, Theta-Roles are not directly observable, but they do have empirical content that is open to empirical observation. The objective of the present paper is to sketch the nature and content of Theta-Roles, distinguishing their universal foundation as part of the language faculty, their language particular realization, which depends on the conditions of individual languages, and idiosyncratic properties, determined by specific information of individual lexical items.
- German reflexives as proper and improper arguments (2006)
- Reflexive pronouns as central anaphoric elements are subject to general principles determined by Universal Grammar and shared by all languages that use reflexives as part of their grammatical structure. In addition to these general conditions, there are language particular properties, which different languages can exhibit on the basis of different regulations. One variation of this sort is the particular role of Reflexives in German, which can show up as improper Arguments, which are subject to standard syntactic and morphological conditions, but do not represent an argument of the head they belong to. Hence the particular property is the effect of syntactic, morphological and semantic conditions. A simple illustration of the phenomena I will explore in this contribution is based on the following observation.
- Generative grammar (2001)
- Generative Grammar is the label of the most influential research program in linguistics and related fields in the second half of the 20. century. Initiated by a short book, Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structures (1957), it became one of the driving forces among the disciplines jointly called the cognitive sciences. The term generative grammar refers to an explicit, formal characterization of the (largely implicit) knowledge determining the formal aspect of all kinds of language behavior. The program had a strong mentalist orientation right from the beginning, documented e.g. in a fundamental critique of Skinner's Verbal behavior (1957) by Chomsky (1959), arguing that behaviorist stimulus-response-theories could in no way account for the complexities of ordinary language use. The "Generative Enterprise", as the program was called in 1982, went through a number of stages, each of which was accompanied by discussions of specific problems and consequences within the narrower domain of linguistics as well as the wider range of related fields, such as ontogenetic development, psychology of language use, or biological evolution. Four stages of the Generative Enterprise can be marked off for expository purposes.
- Lexical information from a minimalist point of view (1997)
- Simplicity as a methodological orientation applies to linguistic theory just as to any other field of research: ‘Occam’s razor’ is the label for the basic heuristic maxim according to which an adequate analysis must ultimately be reduced to indispensible specifications. In this sense, conceptual economy has been a strict and stimulating guideline in the development of Generative Grammar from the very beginning. Halle’s (1959) argument discarding the level of taxonomic phonemics in order to unify two otherwise separate phonological processes is an early characteristic example; a more general notion is that of an evaluation metric introduced in Chomsky (1957, 1975), which relates the relative simplicity of alternative linguistic descriptions systematically to the quest for explanatory adequacy of the theory underlying the descriptions to be evaluated. Further proposals along these lines include the theory of markedness developed in Chomsky and Halle (1968), Kean (1975, 1981), and others, the notion of underspecification proposed e.g. in Archangeli (1984), Farkas (1990), the concept of default values and related notions. An important step promoting this general orientation was the idea of Principles and Parameters developed in Chomsky (1981, 1986), which reduced the notion of language particular rule systems to universal principles, subject merely to parametrization with restricted options, largely related to properties of particular lexical items. On this account, the notion of a simplicity metric is to be dispensed with, as competing analyses of relevant data are now supposed to be essentially excluded by the restrictive system of principles.
- The semantics of gradation (1989)
- The term 'gradation' is meant to cover a range of phenomena which for the time being I shall call quantitative evaluations regarding dimensions or features. I shall actually be looking into the principles governing the way gradation is expressed in language. The quantitative aspect of the adjectives of dimension occupies a key position which can be systematically explained and this aspect will be the crucial point of the discussion. I shall focus on the various grammatical forms of comparison: comparative, equative, superlative and some related constructions, and indications of measurement and adverbial indications of degree.
- Musik und Sprache : überlegungen zu ihrer Struktur und Funktionsweise (1979)
- Sprache und Musik in ihrer Wirkungsweise und in ihrem Aufbau etwas genauer zu verstehen, indem man sie miteinander vergleicht: das ist das Ziel der Überlegungen, die ich im folgenden anstellen will. Gesichtspunkte für diesen Vergleich entnehme ich vor allem der modernen Sprachwissenschaft.