Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLXXXVI, No 4 Contents Vagarious Variable Vinegar Valentines Variety Vault

University News

Chomskyans Prove Biological Basis of Chomskyan Paradigm to the Satisfaction of Chomskyans

by Ruthlessly Roving Reporter Miss Deakina Andrea Kirkhamia

In a move that is certain to reinvigorate faith in the Chomskyan paradigm, a controversial set of experiments recently performed at the Shoreham Institute for Linguistic Inquiry (SILI) were reported yesterday. SILI announced that it has identified the neurobiological echo of certain syntactic constructs central to Chomsky’s theories of language. Many in the syntax community have looked on with furrowed middlebrows as the adherents of Chomsky bang on about empty categories, traces of wh-movement, big PRO and little pro and transformations of various kinds, but these doubts seem now to have been laid to rest by empirical observation of these processes at work.

Professor Peter Petronius Petrovich, Principal of St Petersville College, and PI on the project, gave a confident report in his office on the methods used and results obtained at yesterday’s press conference. Informants were given propositions with ditransitive verbal predicates such as ‘Susan gave Robert a big fat kiss’ and ‘Letitia handed Samuel a posset of honey’ before being asked to form various wh- questions from the prompts. Researchers used specially designed magnifying glasses with syntactic tech enhancement called ‘syntactictechs’ to scrutinise brain activity while the questions were formed. The syntactictechs revealed that, as per transformational grammar theoretic predictions, nominal arguments did actually move from certain regions of the brain to others while the informants were undertaking the task.

“To our surprise, it was actually possible to see the second object move from the right hemisphere through the amygdala and across the hippocampus before relocating in the left hemisphere,” screamed Professor Petrovich. “Moreover, as predicted by the Transformational Grammar, an actual trace in the form of the Latin letter t with a subscript i was visible in the region vacated by the nominal argument. When it came to grammatical function–changing operations, the same kind of observations were made. In some subjects, neatly curving arrows were observed forming themselves within the brain and the direct objects traversed them to place themselves, usually in the anterior cortex, in the subject position.”

Petrovich went on, almost wistfullyhis eyes drawn to herons gliding peacefully over the molten lava lake outside his office block window“This discovery seems to leave no doubt that the monostratal, schema-driven approaches to syntax as espoused by Constructional Grammarians and Role and Reference Grammarians can now safely be relegated to the history books. Shocking as it sounds, there really are two levels of representation, constituents actually do move through the organic matter of the brain, and all that time spent drawing trees as undergraduates wasn’t wasted.”

Letters to the Editor
Vagarious Variable Vinegar Valentines Variety Vault
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVI, No 4 Contents