Year of publication
- BECOME and its presuppositions (2004)
- In hindsight, the debate about presupposition following Frege’s discovery that the referential function of names and definite descriptions depended on the fulfillment of an existence and a uniqueness condition was curiously limited for a very long time. On the one hand, it was only in the 1960s that linguists began to take an interest and showed that presupposition was an allpervasive phenomenon far beyond this philosophers’ pet definite descriptions. And on the other hand, and this is our real concern, it is now only too obvious that the uniqueness condition is too restrictive to be applicable to the general case. An utterance of “The cat is on the mat” should not imply that there is only one cat and one mat in the whole world. The obvious move is to limit the uniqueness condition to some notion of utterance context.
- 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.
- Das Organ des Denkens und - die Grenzen des Ausdrückbaren (1999)
- Metaphern bestimmen nicht nur unser alltägliches Leben, etwa wenn wir vom Rad der Geschichte oder der Bühne des Lebens sprechen, sie geben auch nützliche Orientierung in vielen Bereichen der Wissenschaft, von den schwarzen Löchern der Physiker bis zur Computermetapher des Gehirns in der Kognitionswissenschaft. Eine solche Metapher ist auch die Deutung der Sprache als Werkzeug.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nominalization – lexical and syntactic aspects (2009)
- The main tenet of the present paper is the thesis that nominalization – like other cases of derivational morphology – is an essentially lexical phenomenon with well defined syntactic (and semantic) conditions and consequences. More specifically, it will be argued that the relation between a verb and the noun derived from it is subject to both systematic and idiosyncratic conditions with respect to lexical as well as syntactic aspects.