A new view of the functional role of the left anterior cortex in language use is proposed. The experimental record indicates that most human linguistic abilities are not localized in this region. In particular, most of syntax (long thought to be there) is not located in Broca's area and its vicinity (operculum, insula, and subjacent white matter). This cerebral region, implicated in Broca's aphasia, does have a role in syntactic processing, but a highly specific one: It is the (...) neural home to receptive mechanisms involved in the computation of the relation between transformationally moved phrasal constituents and their extraction sites (in line with the Trace-Deletion Hypothesis). It is also involved in the construction of higher parts of the syntactic tree in speech production. By contrast, basic combinatorial capacities necessary for language processing – for example, structure-building operations, lexical insertion – are not supported by the neural tissue of this cerebral region, nor is lexical or combinatorial semantics. The dense body of empirical evidence supporting this restrictive view comes mainly from several angles on lesion studies of syntax in agrammatic Broca's aphasia. Five empirical arguments are presented: experiments in sentence comprehension, cross-linguistic considerations (where aphasia findings from several language types are pooled and scrutinized comparatively), grammaticality and plausibility judgments, real-time processing of complex sentences, and rehabilitation. Also discussed are recent results from functional neuroimaging and from structured observations on speech production of Broca's aphasics. Syntactic abilities are nonetheless distinct from other cognitive skills and are represented entirely and exclusively in the left cerebral hemisphere. Although more widespread in the left hemisphere than previously thought, they are clearly distinct from other human combinatorial and intellectual abilities. The neurological record (based on functional imaging, split-brain and right-hemisphere-damaged patients, as well as patients suffering from a breakdown of mathematical skills) indicates that language is a distinct, modularly organized neurological entity. Combinatorial aspects of the language faculty reside in the human left cerebral hemisphere, but only the transformational component (or algorithms that implement it in use) is located in and around Broca's area. Key Words: agrammatism; aphasia; Broca's area; cerebral localization; dyscalculia; functional neuroanatomy; grammatical transformation; modularity; neuroimaging; syntax; trace deletion. (shrink)
Respondents from Austria and the Czech Republic noted down their experiences with people from their neighbouring country and their attitudes to their own country and the neighbouring nation on feeling thermometers. The quantitative content analysis and qualitative critical discourse-inspired analysis of the open statements focused on the role of language in the construction of Czech-Austrian relations. Using qualitative analysis we enquired as to which themes were intertwined with the topic of language, and as to the ways (...) in which the participants perceived themselves, the Others, behind the border, and the relations between the two sides. We looked not only into what participants said but also how they said it. Using statistical analysis we tested the link between language-related topics in the descriptions of intergroup contact and the evaluation of the neighbouring nation as a whole. Throughout the article we compare the findings obtained by the two kinds of analysis and comment on agreement as well as on the advantages of both approaches. (shrink)
A belief commonly held in linguistics and philosophy is that semantics is defined by syntax. In this article, I will demonstrate that this does not hold true for Turkish. A fundamental syntactical rule builds around the successive order of words or speech units in a sentence. The order determines the meaning of the sentence, which in turn is rendered meaningless if the rule is not observed. In a given language, if a sentence retains meaning without this rule being (...) applied, then the rule cannot be said to determine meaning. Turkish, with its mathematical structure, is one such language. In effect, the degree to which semantics is determined by syntax varies considerably from one language to the other. If meaning is constructed through dissimilar means in different languages, then it is not possible to talk about a single theory of meaningfulness valid for all languages. Each language is uniquely determined, and is a reflection of its proper cultural background. A theory of language must take into account this cultural framework. In this paper, I shall deal with a different way of constructing meaning whereby syntax does not determine semantics, and present the linguistic possibilities it gives rise to. (shrink)
Three studies provided evidence that syntax influences intentionality judgments. In Experiment 1, participants made either speeded or unspeeded intentionality judgments about ambiguously intentional subjects or objects. Participants were more likely to judge grammatical subjects as acting intentionally in the speeded relative to the reflective condition (thus showing an intentionality bias), but grammatical objects revealed the opposite pattern of results (thus showing an unintentionality bias). In Experiment 2, participants made an intentionality judgment about one of the two actors in a (...) partially symmetric sentence (e.g., “John exchanged products with Susan”). The results revealed a tendency to treat the grammatical subject as acting more intentionally than the grammatical object. In Experiment 3 participants were encouraged to think about the events that such sentences typically refer to, and the tendency was significantly reduced. These results suggest a privileged relationship between language and central theory-of-mind concepts. More specifically, there may be two ways of determining intentionality judgments: (1) an automatic verbal bias to treat grammatical subjects (but not objects) as intentional (2) a deeper, more careful consideration of the events typically described by a sentence. (shrink)
A lengthy debate in the philosophy of the cognitive sciences has turned on whether the phenomenon known as ‘systematicity’ of language and thought shows that connectionist explanatory aspirations are misguided. We investigate the issue of just which phenomenon ‘systematicity’ is supposed to be. The much-rehearsed examples always suggest that being systematic has something to do with ways in which some parts of expressions in natural languages (and, more conjecturally, some parts of thoughts) can be substituted for others without altering (...) well-formedness. We show that under one construal this yields a grossly weak claim that is not just compatible with a narrow version of associationist psychology but essentially coincides with a formalization of its descriptive power. Under another construal we get a claim (apparently unintended) that requires natural languages to fall within the context-free class, a claim that most linguists regard as too strong. Looking more closely at this proposed reconstruction of systematicity leads us to endorse, with further illustrations, the suggestion of Johnson (2004) that systematicity as a matter of substitutability of co-categorial constituents for one another does not appearto hold of natural languages at all. The appeal of the ill-delineated notion of systematicity may lie in the fact that within certain subclasses of lexical items mutual intersubstitutability does seem to hold, and theexplanation for that lies in a limitation on human memory: we simply cannot learn separate privileges of syntactic distribution for all of the huge number of words and phrases that we know. (shrink)
The most conceptually drastic change in natural language syntactic theory in recent years is the introduction of economy conditions (ECs). Although there is not a unified formal notion of economy, the intuition is that natural languages are governed by a general “less is more” principle. Those who take this seriously, and regard it not just as principle guiding the researcher but as something to be implemented directly in grammars, are often led to comparative economy conditions (comparative ECs), which select (...) from a set of structures the most economical among them according to some criterion. Such conditions are associated with the Minimalist Program (MP), but they are found also in Optimality Theory (OT) and Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG).1 The following is a sample of the prominent works mentioning ‘economy’. (shrink)
Michael Friedman has recently argued that Carnap'sLogical Syntax of Language is fundamentally flawed in a way that reveals the ultimate failure of logical positivism. Friedman's argument depends crucially on two claims: (1) that Carnap was committed to the view that there is a universal metalanguage and (2) that given what Carnap wanted from a metalanguage, in particular given that he wanted a definition of analytic for an object language, he was in fact committed to a hierarchy of (...) stronger and stronger metalanguages. We argue that neither of these claims need be accepted. We show that there is no textual evidence for (1) and that if metalanguages are to be used for merely descriptive and not also justificatory purposes, Carnap does not need to define analyticity sufficiently for proving consistency, and so could have given a definition that does not entail a hierarchy of metalanguages. (shrink)
Carnap’s Logical Syntax of Language was one of the first philosophical applications of the results in logical metatheory that appeared in the early 1930s. In using these results, Carnap claimed that he stood in general agreement with Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, but had overcome the limits on the scope of logic that Wittgenstein believed he had found. I argue that Carnap had in fact presupposed a conception of linguistic meaning fundamentally at odds with that presented in the Tractatus, and that (...) he had no non-questioning-begging way of defending this presupposition. As a result Carnap had not so much extended the conception of language and logic present in the Tractatus as he had fundamentally reoriented it, and this reorientation continued with Carnap’s later move to semantics. (shrink)
One important achievement Rudolf Carnap claimed for his book, The Logical Syntax of Language, was that it effected a synthesis of two seemingly antithetical philosophies of mathematics, logicism and formalism. Reconciling these widely divergent conceptions had been a goal of Carnap’s for several years. But in the years in which Carnap’s synthesis evolved, important intellectual developments influenced the direction of his efforts and, ultimately, the final outcome. These developments were, first of all, the epoch-making theorems proved by Kurt (...) Gödel, which required the abandonment of several theses central to the aims of logicism and formalism. Of far greater significance, in the present context, are the changes in Carnap’s own philosophical outlook, brought about not only by Gödel’s theorems but concurrent discussions within the Vienna Circle as well as his own researches. Consequently, the exact sense in which Carnap attempted the synthesis of logicism and formalism in the Logical Syntax requires careful examination. In what follows below, the evolution of Carnap’s synthesis will be traced, from the first reconciliation he proposed , through the synthesis that appeared with the publication of The Logical Syntax of Language. The aim is to determine which modifications of Carnap’s synthesis were required by Gödel’s theorems, and which were motivated by changes in his own thinking. Although the characteristic theses of both logicism and formalism required profound modifications because of Gödel’s theorems, the philosophical impulses that originally fueled their programs retained much of their former virulence. But the changes in Carnap’s thought that ocurred in the years he was developing his synthesis especially affected his appreciation of the philosophical motivations underwriting the logicist approach, so that much of the philosophical insight that inspired it is lost, and Carnap’s combination of logicism and formalism is a putative synthesis at best. (shrink)
Pierre Wagner (ed.): Carnap’s logical syntax of language . Palgrave-MacMillan, 2009, 288pp, £57.00 HB Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9522-8 Authors Alan Richardson, Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, 1866 Main Mall—E370, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 Canada Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
In previous articles, the author proposed that paintings can have syntactic rules. In this article he develops his proposal further and shows that shapes act as syntactic elements in the languages of painting styles. He meets Nelson Goodman's objections to his proposal by showing that shapes meet the criterion of syntactic discreteness proposed by the latter to separate linguistic from other symbolic systems. His approach is to specify style as the domain of a language of painting, to show that (...) style is syntactical and to argue that shapes are the primitive syntactic elements of style. His essay relates current research on the development of syntax for picture-reading machines to the question of syntax for paintings. (shrink)
This volumes aim is to provide an introduction to Carnaps book from a historical and philosophical perspective, each chapter focusing on one specific issue. The book will be of interest not only to Carnap scholars but to all those interested in the history of analytical philosophy.
A traditional view maintains that thought, while expressed in language, is non-linguistic in nature and occurs in non-linguistic beings as well. I assess this view against current theories of the evolutionary design of human grammar. I argue that even if some forms of human thought are shared with non-human animals, a residue remains that characterizes a unique way in which human thought is organized as a system. I explore the hypothesis that the cause of this difference is a grammatical (...) way of structuring semantic information, and I present evidence that the organization of grammar precisely reflects the organization of a specific mode of thought apparently distinctive of humans. Since there appears to be no known non-grammatical structuring principle for the relevant mode of thought, I suggest that grammar is that principle, with no independent ?Language of Thought? needed. (shrink)
Language development is one of the major battle grounds within the humanities and sciences. This book presents, for the first time, an impartial account of the three dominant theories of language development. Written to be accessible for those within developmental psychology, philosophy, and linguistics, the book provides the reader with the information they need in order make up their own mind about this much debated issue.
This paper discusses the distinctions indicated in its title. It is argued that the distinction between syntax and semantics is much more important for the present situation in logic than other distinctions. In particular, doing formal syntax and formal semantics requires the use of an informal melanguage based on ordinary mathematics.