Volume 32, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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Structuralism sought to introduce various kinds of autonomy into the study of language, including the autonomy of that study itself. The basis for this was the insistence on categorial autonomy, whereby categories are identified language-internally (whether in a particular language or in language generally). In relation to phonology, categorial autonomy has generally been tempered by grounding: the categories correlate (at least prototypically) with substance, phonetic properties. This is manifested in the idea of ‘natural classes’ in generative phonology, for instance. Usually, however, and particularly since Bloomfield, no such grounding (in meaning) has been attributed to syntax. This attitude culminates in the principle of the autonomy of syntax which was put forward in transformational-generative grammar. Such an attitude can be contrasted not merely with most pre-structural linguistics but also, in its severity, with other developments in structuralism. In present-day terms, the groundedness of syntax assumes that only the behaviour of semantically typical members of a category determines its basic syntax, and this syntax reflects the semantic properties; groundedness filters out potential syntactic analyses that are incompatible with this.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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