[b-greek] Re: universal syntax

From: Daniel L. Christiansen (dlc@multnomah.edu)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 20:28:44 EDT

Wayne Leman wrote [snipped]:

> There is no such thing as universal syntax. Noam Chomsky speaks of universal
> grammar (and, for him, grammar is different from syntax) but those of us who
> work on languages other than English sometimes wonder if there is even such
> a thing as universal grammar (and Chomsky is *not* speaking of a syntax
> which can be applied to different languages; he is speaking of a linguistic
> model and notational system which might account for the grammatical forms of
> all (?) languages).

I certainly agree that a consistent notational system for representing
written/spoken elements of any language is at least within the realm of
possibility. Of course, the more distinct languages one studies or learns, the less
hopeful he may become of that possibility ever being realized :-) And I also agree
that Chomsky's or grammar was limited to a single language at a time. His concern
was with the ability of a native speaker to produce "correct" utterances which she
had never heard: there must be a "syntax" which has been internalized by that
individual, and which is capable of creatively producing an unlimited set of correct
utterances *within that language system.*

Daniel L. Christiansen
Professor of Biblical Languages, Portland Bible College
Adjunct Professor, Bible Department, Multnomah Bible College
(503) 820-0231

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