Linguists take the intuitive judgments of speakers to be good evidence for a grammar. Why? The Chomskian answer is that they are derived by a rational process from a representation of linguistic rules in the language faculty. The paper takes a different view. It argues for a naturalistic and non-Cartesian view of intuitions in general. They are empirical central-processor responses to phenomena differing from other such responses only in being immediate and fairly unreflective. Applying this to linguistic intuitions yields an (...) explanation of their evidential role without any appeal to the representation of rules. Introduction The evidence for linguistic theories A tension in the linguists' view of intuitions Intuitions in general Linguistic intuitions Comparison of the modest explanation with the standard Cartesian explanation A nonstandard Cartesian explanation of the role of intuitions? Must linguistics explain intuitions? Conclusion. (shrink)
Michael Devitt has argued that Chomsky, along with many other Linguists and philosophers, is ignorant of the true nature of Generative Linguistics. In particular, Devitt argues that Chomsky and others wrongly believe the proper object of linguistic inquiry to be speakers' competences, rather than the languages that speakers are competent with. In return, some commentators on Devitt's work have returned the accusation, arguing that it is Devitt who is ignorant about Linguistics. In this note, I consider whether there might be (...) less to this apparent dispute than meets the eye. -/- . (shrink)
Mind–body dualism has rarely been an issue in the generative study of mind; Chomsky himself has long claimed it to be incoherent and unformulable. We first present and defend this negative argument but then suggest that the generative enterprise may license a rather novel and internalist view of the mind and its place in nature, different from all of, (i) the commonly assumed functionalist metaphysics of generative linguistics, (ii) physicalism, and (iii) Chomsky’s negative stance. Our argument departs from the empirical (...) observation that the linguistic mind gives rise to hierarchies of semantic complexity that we argue (only) follow from constraints of an essentially mathematical kind. We assume that the faculty of language tightly correlates with the mathematical capacity both formally and in evolution, the latter plausibly arising as an abstraction from the former, as a kind of specialized output. On this basis, and since the semantic hierarchies in question are mirrored in the syntactic complexity of the expression involved, we posit the existence of a higher-dimensional syntax structured on the model of the hierarchy of numbers, in order to explain the semantic facts in question. If so, syntax does not have a physicalist interpretation any more than the hierarchy of number-theoretic spaces does. (shrink)
Philosophy of linguistics is the philosophy of science as applied to linguistics. This differentiates it sharply from the philosophy of language, traditionally concerned with matters of meaning and reference.
One of the central issues in linguistics is whether or not language should be considered a self-contained, autonomous formal system, essentially reducible to the syntactic algorithms of meaning construction (as Chomskyan grammar would have it), or a holistic-functional system serving the means of expressing pre-organized intentional contents and thus accessible with respect to features and structures pertaining to other cognitive subsystems or to human experience as such (as Cognitive Linguistics would have it). The latter claim depends critically on the existence (...) of principles governing the composition of semantic contents. Husserl''s fourth Logical Investigation is well known as a genuine precursor for Chomskyan grammar. However, I will establish the heterogeneous character of the Investigation and show that the whole first part of it is devoted to the exposition of a semantic combinatorial system cognate to the one elaborated within Cognitive Linguistics. I will thus show how theoretical results in linguistics may serve to corroborate and shed light on those parts of Husserl''s Fourth Investigation that have traditionally been dismissed as vague or simply ignored. (shrink)
This book deals with the need to rethink the aims and methods of contemporary linguistics. Orthodox linguists' discussions of linguistic form fail to exemplify how language users become language makers. Integrationist theory is used here as a solution to this basic problem within general linguistics. The book is aimed at an interdisciplinary readership, comprising those engaged in study, teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences, including linguistics, philosophy, sociology and psychology.
Noam Chomsky’s well-known claim that linguistics is a “branch of cognitive psychology” has generated a great deal of dissent—not from linguists or psychologists, but from philosophers. Jerrold Katz, Scott Soames, Michael Devitt, and Kim Sterelny have presented a number of arguments, intended to show that this Chomskian hypothesis is incorrect. On both sides of this debate, two distinct issues are often conflated: (1) the ontological status of language and (2) the relation between psychology and linguistics. The ontological issue is, I (...) will argue, not the relevant issue in the debate. Even if this Chomskian position on the ontology of language is false, linguistics may still be a subfield of psychology if the relevant methods in linguistic theory construction are psychological. Two options are open to the philosopher who denies Chomskian conceptualism: linguistic nominalism or linguistic platonism. The former position holds that syntactic, semantic, and phonological properties are primarily properties, not of mental representations, but rather of public languagesentence tokens; The latter position holds that the linguistic properties are properties of public language sentence types. I will argue that both of these positions are compatible with Chomsky’s claim that linguistics is a branch of psychology, and the arguments that have been given for nominalism and platonism do not establish that linguistics and psychology are distinct disciplines. (shrink)
This edited volume offers ten new essays on semantics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of linguistics by top scholars in the field. Covering a wide range of topics, the collection is sure to be of interest to scholars in those areas as well as some philosophers of mind. Because of the diversity of topics and perspectives inherent in the collection, readers will find both exposition and debate among the contributors.
This groundbreaking collection, the most thorough treatment of the philosophy of linguistics ever published, brings together philosophers, scientists and historians to map out both the foundational assumptions set during the second half of ...
In light of the sharp linguistic turn philosophy has taken in this century, this collection provides a much-needed and long-overdue reference for philosophical discussion. The first collection of its kind, it explores questions of the nature and existence of linguistic objects--including sentences and meanings--and considers the concept of truth in linguistics. The status of linguistics and the nature of language now take a central place in discussions of the nature of philosophy; the essays in this volume both inform these discussions (...) and lay the groundwork for further examination. (shrink)
Biosemioticians use language and linguistic concepts as a window onto phenomena and processes on all levels of life. Like most biologists, some biosemioticians use language and linguistic concepts as metaphors for phenomena and processes on the cellular level. Even mainstream biologists may be aware that with concepts like code, information or communication on the level of the cell, they are anthropomorphizing the living things they study. The paradox of linguistics is that the object of study is at the same time (...) the cognitive tool for its analysis. Like everyone else, biologists depend on the species-specific cognitive tool of language to study the laws and phenomena of all kinds of living organisms. Biosemioticians face both paradoxes and the challenge of mediating between the terminologies of the disciplines they navigate. At the 11th Gatherings in Biosemiotics in New York, several papers commented on inadequate concepts in the field of linguistics and the failure of the discipline of linguistics as a whole. In this paper, I comment on some of the claims that were made specifically about the distinctive feature and the notion of code in linguistics. (shrink)
As hopes that generative linguistics might solve philosophical problems about the mind give way to disillusionment, old problems concerning the relationship between linguistics and philosophy survive unresolved. This collection surveys the historical engagement between the two, and opens up avenues for further reflection. In Part 1 two contrasting views are presented of the interface nowadays called 'philosophy of linguistics'. Part 2 gives a detailed historical survey of the engagement of analytic philosophy with linguistic problems during the present century, and sees (...) the imposition by philosophers of an 'exploratory' model of thinking as a major challenge to the discipline of linguistics. Part 3 poses the problem of whether linguistics is dedicated to describing independently existing linguistic structures or to imposing its own structures on linguistic phenomena. In Part 4 Harris points out some similarities in the way an eminent linguist and an eminent philosopher invoke the analogy between languages and games; while Taylor analyses the rationale of our metalinguistic claims and their relationship to linguistic theorizing. Providing a wide range of views and ideas this book will be of interest to all those interested and involved in the interface of philosophy and linguistics. (shrink)
Authoritative and wide-ranging, this book examines the history of western linguistics over a 2000-year timespan, from its origins in ancient Greece up to the crucial moment of change in the Renaissance that laid the foundations of modern linguistics. Some of today's burning questions about language date back a long way: in 1400 BC Plato was asking how words relate to reality. Other questions go back just a few generations, such as our interest in the mechanisms of language change, or in (...) the social factors that shape the way we speak. Vivien Law explores how ideas about language over the centuries have changed to reflect changing modes of thinking. A survey chapter brings the coverage of the book up to the present day. Classified bibliographies and chapters on research resources and the qualities the historian of linguistics needs to develop, provide the reader with the tools to go further. (shrink)
After reviewing some major features of theinteractions between Linguistics and Philosophyin recent years, I suggest that the depth and breadthof current inquiry into semanticshas brought this subject into contact both with questionsof the nature of linguistic competence and with modern andtraditional philosophical study of the nature ofour thoughts, and the problems of metaphysics.I see this development as promising for thefuture of both subjects.
This paper investigates the issue whether metaphors have a metaphorical or secondary meaning and how this question is related to the borderline between philosophy and linguistics. On examples by V. Woolf and H. W. Auden, it will be shown that metaphor accomplishes something more than its literal meaning expresses and this “more” cannot be captured by any secondary meaning. What is essential in the metaphor is not a secondary meaning but an internal relation between a metaphorical proposition and a description (...) of its effects. In order to understand metaphors, we have to share an ability to construe metaphorical meanings at once. The aim of this ability is to uncover an internal relation, which lies behind a particular metaphor. (shrink)
For the past three decades linguistic theory has been based on the assumption that sentences are interpreted and constructed by the brain by means of computational processes analogous to those of a serial-digital computer. The recent interest in devices based on the neural network or parallel distributed processor (PDP) principle raises the possibility ("eliminative connectionism") that such devices may ultimately replace the S-D computer as the model for the interpretation and generation of language by the brain. An analysis of the (...) differences between the two models suggests that the effect of such a development would be to steer linguistic theory towards a return to the empiricism and behaviorism which prevailed before it was driven by Chomsky towards nativism and mentalism. Linguists, however, will not be persuaded to return to such a theory unless and until it can deal with the phenomenon of novel sentence construction as effectively as its nativist/mentalist rival. (shrink)
There were in the past, just as there are in the present, several diverse attempts to establish a unique theory capable of identifying in all natural languages a similar, invariable basic structure of a logical nature. If such a theory exists, then there must be principles that rule the functioning of these languages and they must have a logical origin. Based on a work by the French linguist, Oswald Ducrot, entitled D’un mauvais usage de la logique , this paper aims (...) to present in a concise manner two of the above mentioned attempts. They were elaborated in diverse epochs and different arguments were put forward to support them. The first attempt was in XVII century France and its theoretic basis was the renowned ‘Port-Royal Logic’. The second attempt is recent and its theoretic support comes from Contemporary Logic. DOI: 10.5007/1808-1711.2011v15n1p111. (shrink)
Demonstrative noun phrases (e.g., that guy , this ) are of interest to philosophers of language and semanticists because they are sensitive to demonstrations or speaker intentions. The interpretation of a demonstrative therefore sheds light on the role of the context in natural language semantics. This survey reviews two types of approaches to demonstratives: Kaplan's direct reference treatment of demonstratives and other indexicals, and recent challenges to Kaplan's approach that focus on less obviously context-sensitive uses of demonstratives. The survey then (...) covers selected research on demonstratives in linguistics. This research offers new empirical puzzles and contrasting theoretical approaches to demonstratives. (shrink)
This collection of articles and review essays, including many hard to find pieces, comprises the most important and fundamental studies of Indian logic and linguistics ever undertaken. Frits Staal is concerned with four basic questions: Are there universals of logic that transcend culture and time? Are there universals of language and linguistics? What is the nature of Indian logic? And what is the nature of Indian linguistics? By addressing these questions, Staal demonstrates that, contrary to the general assumption among Western (...) philosophers, the classical philosophers of India were rationalists, attentive to arguments. They were in this respect unlike contemporary Western thinkers inspired by existentialism or hermeneutics, and like the ancient Chinese, Greeks, and many medieval European schoolmen, only--as Staal says--more so. Universals establishes that Asia's contributions are not only compatible with what has been produced in the West, but a necessary ingredient and an essential component of any future human science. (shrink)
In this paper I address the issue of the subject matter of linguistics. According to the prominent Chomskyan view, linguistics is the study of the language faculty, a component of the mind-brain, and is therefore a branch of cognitive psychology. In his recent book Ignorance of Language Michael Devitt attacks this psychologistic conception of linguistics. I argue that the prominent Chomskyan objections to Devitt's position are not decisive as they stand. However, Devitt's position should ultimately be rejected as there is (...) nothing outside of the mind of a typical speaker that could serve to fix determinate syntactic rules of her language or constitute the supervenience base of her connection to any such rules. (shrink)
This paper discusses several case studies that illustrate the relationship between the philosophy of language and three branches of linguistics: syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Among other things, I identify binding arguments in the linguistics literature preceding (Stanley 2000), and I invent binding arguments to evaluate various semantic and pragmatic theories of belief ascriptions.
Demonstrative noun phrases (e.g. this; that guy over there ) are intimately connected to the context of use in that their reference is determined by demonstrations and/or the speaker's intentions. The semantics of demonstratives therefore has important implications not only for theories of reference, but for questions about how information from the context interacts with formal semantics. First treated by Kaplan as directly referential , demonstratives have recently been analyzed as quantifiers by King, and the choice between these two approaches (...) is a matter of ongoing controversy. Meanwhile, linguists and psychologists working from a variety of perspectives have gathered a wealth of data on the form, meaning, and use of demonstratives in many languages. Demonstratives thus provide a fruitful topic for graduate study for two reasons. On the one hand, they serve as an entry point to foundational issues in reference and the semantics–pragmatics interface. On the other hand, they are an especially promising starting point for interdisciplinary research, which brings the results of linguistics and related fields to bear on the philosophy of language. Author Recommends Kaplan, David. 'Demonstratives.' 1977. Themes from Kaplan . Ed. J. Almong, J. Perry, and H. Wettstein. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. 481–563. The seminal work on the semantics of demonstratives and indexicals, such as I, here , and now . Kaplan introduces a distinction between content (which maps from possible circumstances to extensions) and character (which maps from possible contexts to contents). He argues that demonstratives and indexicals are directly referential : given a possible context, their character fixes their extension. Kaplan, David. 'Afterthoughts.' Themes from Kaplan . Ed. J. Almong, J. Perry, and H. Wettstein. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. 565–614. An elaboration on the theory developed in 'Demonstratives.' Kaplan considers the connection between direct reference and rigid designation; raises the issue of whether demonstratives depend on demonstrations or speaker intentions; and discusses implications of the analysis for formal semantics and for epistemology. King, Jeffrey C. Complex Demonstratives . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001. In perhaps the most influential challenge to date to the direct reference theory of demonstratives, King argues that complex demonstratives (i.e. demonstrative determiners with nominal complements) are best analyzed as quantifiers. Braun, David. 'Complex Demonstratives and Their Singular Contents.' Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (2008): 57–99. This recent Kaplanian analysis of complex demonstratives shows the 'state of the art' of direct reference approaches and responds to some of the objections to such approaches raised by King. Elbourne, Paul. 'Demonstratives as Individual Concepts.' Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (2008): 409–466. The most recent analysis of demonstratives as individual concepts, contrasting with both the direct reference and quantificational approaches. Fillmore, Charles. Lectures on Deixis . Stanford, CA: CSLI, 1997. In this collection of lectures, originally delivered in 1971, Fillmore considers demonstratives and indexical expressions in many languages to describe the types of information about the context (e.g. locations in space, time, and discourse) that are encoded in natural language. Gundel, Jeanette K., Nancy Hedberg, and Ron Zacharski. 'Cognitive Status and the Form of Referring Expressions in Discourse.' Language 69 (1993): 274–307. Perhaps the most detailed pragmatic alternative to formal semantic theories of demonstratives and other referring expressions. The authors argue that demonstratives are best described as imposing a condition of use in which the referent of the demonstrative has a certain level of salience for the interlocutors. Online Materials http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/indexicals/ Indexicals (David Braun) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/reference/ Reference (Marga Reimer) http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rigid-designators/ Rigid designators (Joseph LaPorte) http://philpapers.org/browse/indexicals-and-demonstratives/ Online bibliography of papers on indexicals and demonstratives Sample Syllabus The following syllabus can be used in entirety for a survey course on demonstratives; in addition, each of the three units is self-contained and can be used alone. Unit 1: Demonstratives and Indexicality Week 1: Indexicals 1. Kaplan, Demonstratives 2. Kaplan, Afterthoughts Week 2: Issues for Indexical Reference 1. Reimer, Marga. 'Do Demonstrations Have Semantic Significance?' Analysis 51 (1991): 177–83. 2. Bach, Kent. 'Intentions and Demonstrations.' Analysis 52 (1992): 140–46. 3. Nunberg, Geoffrey. 'Indexicality and Deixis.' Linguistics and Philosophy 16.1 (1993): 1–43. Week 3: Optional detour: Monsters 1. Schlenker, Philippe. 'A Plea for Monsters.' Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (2003): 29-120. Week 4: Demonstratives as Quantifiers 1. King. Complex Demonstratives , chapters 1–3. Week 5: Indexical and Non-Indexical Demonstratives 1. Braun, David. 'Complex Demonstratives and Their Singular Contents.' Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (2008): 57–99. Optional additional reading 2. Roberts, Craige. 'Demonstratives as Definites.' Information Sharing . Ed. Kees van Deemter and Roger Kibble. Stanford, CA: CSLI Press, 2002. 3. Wolter, Lynsey. 'That's That: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Demonstrative Noun Phrases.' Diss. University of California, Santa Cruz, 2006, chapters 2–3. 4. Elbourne, Paul. 'Demonstratives as Individual Concepts.' Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (2008): 409–66. Unit 2: Demonstratives, Proximity, Salience Week 6: Demonstratives and Proximity 1. Fillmore, Charles. 'Deixis I.' in Lectures on Deixis . Stanford, CA: CSLI, 1997. 59–76. 2. Fillmore, Charles. 'Deixis II.' in Lectures on Deixis . Stanford, CA: CSLI, 1997. 103–26. Optional additional reading 3. Prince, Ellen. 'On the Inferencing of Indefinite- this NPs.' Elements of Discourse Understanding . Ed. Aravind K. Joshi, Bonnie L. Weber, and Ivan A. Sag. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981. 231–50. Week 7: Demonstratives and Salience 1. Gundel, Jeanette K., Nancy Hedberg, and Ron Zacharski. 'Cognitive Status and the Form of Referring Expressions in Discourse.' Language 69 (1993): 274–307. Optional additional reading 2. Brown-Schmidt, Sarah, Donna K. Byron, and Michael K. Tanenhaus. 'Beyond Salience: Interpretation of Personal and Demonstrative Pronouns.' Journal of Memory and Language 53 (2005): 292–313. Note: readers new to psycholinguistics should concentrate on the Introduction. Unit 3: Demonstratives and Copular Sentences Week 8: Background on the Typology of Copular Sentences 1. Higgins, F. Roger. 'The Pseudo-Cleft Construction in English.' Diss. MIT, 1973, chapter 5. Week 9: Demonstratives in Copular Sentences 1. Mikkelsen, Line. 'Specifying Who: On the Structure, Meaning, and Use of Specificational Copular Clauses.' Diss. University of California, Santa Cruz, 2004, chapter 8.2 (Truncated Clefts). 2. Heller, Daphna and Lynsey Wolter. ' That is Rosa : Identificational Sentences as Intensional Predication.' Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 12 . Ed. Atle Grønn. Oslo: Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages, University of Oslo, 2008. Week 10: Demonstratives, Copular Sentences, Modals 1. Birner, Betty J., Jeffrey P. Kaplan, and Gregory Ward. 'Functional Compositionality and the Interaction of Discourse Constraints.' Language 83 (2007): 317–43. Focus Questions 1. Which of the following expressions are indexicals? Which are demonstratives? Why? (a) a pencil (b) the pencil (c) this pencil (d) Mary Smith (e) Mary's pencil (f ) my pencil (g) we (h) you (i) here (j) there (k) now (l) then 2. Do demonstratives ever interact with scope-taking operators to give rise to two or more truth-conditionally distinct readings? If so, under what circumstances? 3. (a) If demonstratives (sometimes or always) interact with scope-taking operators to give rise to two or more truth-conditionally distinct readings, to what extent can a direct reference theory of demonstratives be maintained? (b) If demonstratives never interact with scope-taking operators to give rise to two or more truth-conditionally distinct readings, to what extent can a quantificational theory of demonstratives be maintained? 4. What kind of thing is a demonstration? Is it a pointing gesture? An indication of the speaker's focus of attention? Something more abstract? 5. What information do English demonstratives convey about proximity? What is 'proximity'– physical closeness to the speaker, or something more abstract? What is the status of this information: is it entailed, presupposed, or something else? 6. Do demonstratives that are accompanied by a physical gesture of demonstration have the same semantic value as anaphoric demonstratives, such as that in (a)? Why or why not? (a) John made a peanut butter sandwich and ate it quickly. Next he took an apple from the fridge. He ate that more slowly. (shrink)
A common assumption in metaphysics and the philosophy of language is that the general structure of language displays the general metaphysical structure of the things we talk about. But expressions can easily be imperfect representations of what they are about. After clarifying this general point, I make a case study of a recent attempt to semantically analyze the nature of knowledge-how. This attempt fails because there appears to be no plausible bridge from the linguistic structure of knowledge-how reports to knowledge-how (...) itself. I then gesture at some other places where the connection between linguistics and metaphysics is commonly, but illegitimately, assumed. (shrink)
Linguistics and the Vienna Circle Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9445-9 Authors Thomas Uebel, Department of Philosophy, School of Social Science, University of Manchester, Arthur Lewis Building, Manchester, M13 9PL UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
Despite the platitude that analytic philosophy is deeply concerned with language, philosophers of science have paid little attention to methodological issues that arise within historical linguistics. I broach this topic by arguing that many inferences in historical linguistics conform to Reichenbach's common cause principle (CCP). Although the scope of CCP is narrower than many have thought, inferences about the genealogies of languages are particularly apt for reconstruction using CCP. Quantitative approaches to language comparison are readily understood as methods for detecting (...) the correlations that serve as premises for common cause inferences, and potential sources of error in historical linguistics correspond to well-known limitations of CCP. (shrink)
Noam Chomsky, the founding father of generative grammar and the instigator of some of its core research programs, claims that linguistics is a part of psychology, concerned with a class of cognitive structures employed in speaking and understanding. In a recent book, Ignorance of Language, Michael Devitt has challenged certain core aspects of linguistics, as prominent practitioners of the science conceive of it. Among Devitt’s major conclusions is that linguistics is not a part of psychology. In this thesis I defend (...) Chomsky’s psychological conception of grammatical theory. My case for the psychological conception involves defending a set of psychological goals for generative grammars, centring on conditions of descriptive and explanatory adequacy. I argue that generative grammar makes an explanatory commitment to a distinction between a psychological system of grammatical competence and the performance systems engaged in putting that competence to use. I then defend the view that this distinction can be investigated by probing speakers’ linguistic intuitions. Building on the psychological goals of generative grammar and its explanatory commitment to a psychological theory of grammatical competence, I argue that generative grammar neither targets nor presupposes non-psychological grammatical properties. The latter nonpsychological properties are dispensable to grammarians’ explanations because their explanatory goals can be met by the theory of grammatical competence to which they are committed. So generative grammars have psychological properties as their subject matter and linguistics is a part of psychology. (shrink)
Barsalou's contribution converges with basic ideas and empirical findings of cognitive linguistics. They posit the same general architecture. The perceptual grounding of conceptual structure is a central tenet of cognitive linguistics. Our capacity to construe the same situation in alternate ways is fundamental to cognitive semantics, and numerous parallels are discernible between conceptual construal and visual perception. Grammar is meaningful, consisting of schematized patterns for the pairing of semantic and phonological structures. The meanings of grammatical elements reside primarily in the (...) construal they impose on conceptual content. This view of linguistic structure appears to be compatible with Barsalou's proposals. (shrink)
I examine what would be necessary to move part-of-speech tagging performance from its current level of about 97.3% token accuracy (56% sentence accuracy) to close to 100% accuracy. I suggest that it must still be possible to greatly increase tagging performance and examine some useful improvements that have recently been made to the Stanford Part-of-Speech Tagger. However, an error analysis of some of the remaining errors suggests that there is limited further mileage to be had either from better machine learning (...) or better features in a discriminative sequence classiﬁer. The prospects for further gains from semisupervised learning also seem quite limited. Rather, I suggest and begin to demonstrate that the largest opportunity for further progress comes from improving the taxonomic basis of the linguistic resources from which taggers are trained. That is, from improved descriptive linguistics. However, I conclude by suggesting that there are also limits to this process. The status of some words may not be able to be adequately captured by assigning them to one of a small number of categories. While conventions can be used in such cases to improve tagging consistency, they lack a strong linguistic basis. (shrink)