[lit-ideas] Re: [Lit-Ideas} Re: Russian

  • From: Omar Kusturica <omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2014 15:13:31 -0800 (PST)

I certainly noticed John's post, though somewhat belatedly due to the email 
problems that I already mentioned. It was an intelligent and elaborate post 
that would require an adequate reply and I was hoping to provide one but, what 
with my knowledge of Chomskian linguistics being somewhat rusty  (I took 
several courses in it but didn't like it much, and haven't studied it since), 
and what with other things coming up, I didn't get to it. Maybe another time.


On Wednesday, January 8, 2014 11:24 PM, Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx> wrote:
McCreery wrote
is obviously an innate ability to acquire language in humans (not shared with
hedgehogs, presumably) but to claim the existence of an innate grammar is in
effect to claim that we are born with language, or some crucial aspects of it.
This seems highly unlikely on logical grounds. We aren't born knowing the words
of a language, or sounds, so why should we be born with a grammar?
you have stated that "There is obviously an innate ability to acquire
language...," but what is the nature of that ability? That is the question
that Chomsky was attempting to answer. He began with a critique of the simple
imitation and reinforcement model suggested by B.F. Skinner. If language were
learned by imitation alone, it would be impossible to do what speakers of any
human language can do, i.e., create new sentences, intelligible to themselves
and others, that have never been spoken before. How is that possible?’
went on to give a brief yet perspicuous elucidation of Jakobson and Chomsky’s
views, as they bear on the question of whether, given that humans have an
innate ability to acquire language, they also have an ‘innate grammar,’ which
somehow facilitates it. (I've snipped the elucidation.)

want to thank John, for having written something so clear and distinct, without
rancor or defensiveness.

post (which went completely ignored), is the only post to this list I’ve been
able to follow, for some time. A number of people have written a number of
things that seem to have only a notional relation to each other. Maybe if I 
harder I’d be able to grasp the relation between Newton’s Second Law of Motion
and how Grice in a dream influenced Geach, but for now, I’ll let it pass. I’m
sure I’ll sleep better.)

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