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Transneptune

beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

Academic slapdowns are my favorite

July 19th, 2009 by Kit

One can in fact view construction-based theories of syntax as upholding standards of grammar coverage that the original proponents of generative grammar abandoned, as they sought to reduce the theory’s dependence on linguistic facts. Chomsky (1995: 435) describes this shift in the goals of grammarians as follows:  “A look at the earliest work from the mid-1950s will show that many phenomena that fell within the rich descriptive apparatus then postulated, often with accounts of no little interest and insight, lack any serious analysis within the much narrower theories motivated by the search for explanatory adequacy, and remain among the huge mass of constructions for which no principled explanation exists—again, not an unusual concomitant of progress”. It seems safe to say that most proponents of construction-based syntax would not consider the loss of insightful and interesting accounts a mark of progress, and find the search for putatively narrower theories of explanatory adequacy unrequited.

From Kay & Michaelis, forthcoming.  I am in love with construction grammar.  Just re-read the first sentence there.  That is the funniest thing I’ve read in a long while.  I think I might just be an academic at heart.  (But it’s funny because it’s true!)

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