Publication details

From syntax to the structure of thought



MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description I will argue that syntactic research of the last couple of decades completely changes our view of the architecture of language, parts of philosophy of mind, the relationship of language to non-language faculties, our understanding of the relationship of language to thought, etc. Much of what we considered to be language for instance turns out to be language-independent - what we might call 'language-free syntax' - and much of what was thought to be purely arbitrary syntactic constraints turns out to be partially grounded in interpretable (semantic) concepts. Syntactic structures have traditionally been overwhelmingly about verbs and their arguments and modifiers, with just a little bit of 'stuff' (eg S/S') added -- reflecting the view that "the core of syntax" is about the behavior of verbs and their arguments and modifiers. As syntactic inquiry become more sophisticated and fine-grained, that little bit of 'stuff' grew into a large number of functional projections capturing the differing syntax of definite vs indefinite nouns in a number of languages, tensed versus untensed verbs, completion adverbs versus frequentative adverbs, the interaction of floating quantifiers and passive auxiliaries, etc. It is the evolution of that little bit of 'stuff' that has fundamental implications with respect to our understanding of language and mind.
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