Introduction: Neil Smith's Linguistics

Neil Smith has worked across the full range of the discipline of linguistics and explored its interfaces with other disciplines. In all this work he has maintained a commitment to a mentalist approach to the study of language and communication. The aim of this Special Issue is to honour his work and commitment with a collection of papers which brings together work by phonologists, syntacticians, psycholinguists, and pragmatists who share this interest in language as a central component of the human mind and who have worked with Neil, whether as colleagues, collaborators, or students. Neil’s career can be viewed in relation to three main developments in modern linguistics. First, it reflects the development of generativism, in both syntax and phonology. For Neil, this has meant working within, and exploring the ramifications of, the groundbreaking theoretical framework for linguistics initiated and developed by Noam Chomsky. Neil has given full expression to this intellectual debt in two book-length studies of Chomsky’s ideas and principles (Smith and Wilson 1979, Smith 1999) and in many papers and commentaries. Notwithstanding his unswerving Chomskyan allegiance, Neil has been open to, and has encouraged, the exploration of alternative approaches to both syntax and phonology, including optimality theory, GPSG, word grammar, and categorial grammar. The second development reflected in Neil’s work is the trend towards placing research in linguistics in the context of research in cognitive psychology and philosophy of mind and language - in other words, the development of linguistics as one of the cognitive sciences, again very much a Chomskyan initiative. This ‘cognitive turn’ can be seen as, at least in part, a consequence of a commitment to generativism and to linguistic theories that aim to go beyond detailed description of data to achieve explanatory adequacy. In the field of phonology, this search for explanatory adequacy led to Neil’s work on the acquisition of....
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