Does linguistic explanation presuppose linguistic description?

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I argue that the following two assumptions are incorrect: (i) The properties of the innate Universal Grammar can be discovered by comparing language systems, and (ii) functional explanation of language structure presupposes a &#8220;correct&#8221;, i.e. cognitively realistic, description. Thus, there are two ways in which linguistic explanation does not presuppose linguistic description. The generative program of building cross-linguistic generalizations into the hypothesized Universal Grammar cannot succeed because the actually observed generalizations are typically one-way implications or implicational scales, and because they typically have exceptions. The cross-linguistic generalizations are much more plausibly due to functional factors. <br /> I distinguish sharply between &#8220;phenomenological description&#8221; (which makes no claims about mental reality) and &#8220;cognitively realistic description&#8221;, and I show that for functional explanation, phenomenological description is sufficient.


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