Lakoff, George. Contemporary Studies in Generative Semantics (281 pps.)
A collection of G. Lakoff’s latest work, in which he extends and deepens the theory of generative semantics. In a series of stimulating and far-
ranging articles: “The role of gestures in determining grammaticality”, “Non- logical Logic and Confused Thought”, “What Linguists will be doing in the year 2001 A.D.”, “Language and Personality”, and many others, Lakoff develops a rich theory of linguistics which stands in sharp contrast to the barren, sterile, tinkerings of what he calls the “pre- modern linguists”, e.g. Z. S. Harris and some of his students. Particularly innovative is his essay “On Galactic Rules”, where he demonstrates that linguistic rules must have access to the intuitions of other speakers.
Postal, P. M. The Collected Linguistic Writings of Paul M. Postal, Vol. XXXVI, Feb.-
The latest volume of this heralded series contains, as we have come to expect, much that is new and entertaining. Highlights are: 18 new postulated universals, lively attacks on the views and character of 8 well known linguists, and a preface by the publisher containing 32 new arguments in favor of publishing this series.
McCawley, J. D. Eight Counter-
Articles that were too advanced for even the Chicago Linguistics Society a mere 3 years ago have finally come into their own: “Nouns as Higher Verbs and Verbs as Higher Nouns”, “Prepositional Phrases as Choo-
choo Trains” and “English as an Underlying Tomato Patch”, with arguments drawn exclusively from Japanese and Proto- Hittite, are among the most shocking. In “Vowel quality and color” he shows that phonological systems are color- coordinated to mix and match.
Ross, J. R. “Haj” A Linguist’s Book of Counter-
This innovative work, consisting solely of numbered sentences of varying degrees of grammaticality, demonstrates conclusively that the study of syntax as we know it is impossible. With an introduction by The Perfect Master, Maharaj Ji.
Edmonds, J. Studies in Synchronic and Diachronic Linguistics (275 pps.)
In “On the So-
called Indo- European Languages”, Edmonds puts forward the challenging hypothesis that, contrary to popular belief, the Indo- European languages started out being completely unrelated but have been gradually evolving toward Proto- Indo- European. In the area of synchronic grammar, Edmonds provides a wealth of evidence which suggests that the following transformations in English work backwards: Passive, raising to subject, heavy NP- shift, reflexivization, WH- movement, subject- aux inversion, relative clause transformation, and number agreement. The remaining well- motivated transformation, Empty- Node Deletion, is shown to be 7 separate rules.
Dougherty, Ray C. Teaching Generative Semantics in the Schools
In a sober and sobering discussion, Dougherty examines the various arguments against censorship of pernicious doctrines, and finds that none of them are applicable to “that body of non-
theory and mal- practice known as the Generative Semantics Aberration”. In a particularly grim chapter “Generative Semantics Through the Ages”, Dougherty considers the impact of Generative- Semantic like teachings on the destruction of Byzantium, the disastrous Children’s Crusade, the spread of the plague of 1338, and many other catastrophes down to our own day. He concludes, reluctantly, that books containing generative semantics should be destroyed, and their authors imprisoned: “Deep semantics should be even more repugnant to the universities of New York than Deep Throat is to its movie theaters.”
Chomsky N. Two Studies in Language (228 pps. plus a Supplement of 432 pps, containing footnotes.)
In the first of these two articles, “Constraining the Theory of Cycles”, Prof. Chomsky shows how the theory of grammar can be considerably sharpened by introducing several notions such as the epicycle, the theory of retrograde motion, and the idea of grammatical spheres. Chomsky shows that these notions are in fact not new, but are formalizations of insights known to the ancients, dating back to the Code of Hammurabi. Looking beyond linguistics, Chomsky shows that Einstein’s general theory of relativity and Gibb’s Second Law of Thermodynamics, when properly formalized, are notational variants of his Generalized Standard Theory, and that this fact “would have been immediately apparent if these theories had not been distorted by ideologically motivated second-
rate history professors, many of whom also engage in mass murder.”
In his second article “Fun with Words”, Chomsky looks at puns, palindromes, Pig Latin, Broken Telephone, and other “manifestations of creative language games (in the formal sense developed by Von Neumann)”, with a view to sharply constraining the possible kinds of language games. The first part of the paper contains an interesting discussion of the vague and often vacuous notion of “having fun”. He discovers that correctly applied, the term is either meaningless or empirically wrong, and he points the way to a contentful generative theory of fun.
Jackendoff, Ray C. Some Essays in Interpretive Semantics (240 pps.)
In his latest contributions to Interpretive Semantics, Ray Jackendoff demonstrates that semantic interpretation rules are constrained to operate only on empty nodes. The generalization that lexical material may not be inputs to the semantic component at once greatly simplifies and constrains the theory of grammar. Jackendoff uses this generalization to particularly great effect in “Deep Structure as Surface Structure”, where he proves that the only thing that distinguishes deep structure from surface structure is the presence of meaning-
bearing empty nodes.
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“No syntaxation without semantic representation!”
— Revolutionaries’ War Cry at the Battles of Lexicon and Concord