[b-greek] Re: universal syntax

From: Wayne Leman (wleman@mcn.net)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 22:07:01 EDT

> 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
> 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
> individual, and which is capable of creatively producing an unlimited set
of correct
> utterances *within that language system.*
> Daniel


I may have misunderstood the term "universal syntax" as it was used in this
thread. In my response I was only speaking to whether or not there is
universal syntax, not whether or not syntax can have a universal notational
system. The latter is definitely possible. The work of descriptive linguists
in the modern era is proof of that (altho the linguists themselves have
often used different notational systems).

I was simply addressing whether or not there is universal syntax itself, and
to me that is essentially a contradiction in terms, since we know that every
language is different; no two languages are identical--if they were, they
wouldn't be different languages. Part of what makes a language different is
that it has a different syntax from every other language. There are
definitely syntactic similarities among languages, but there is no universal
syntax, no universal set of rules for how people say what they do in

There are symbols which are candidates for describing any language spoken
today, symbols such as S, N, NP, V, VP, PP, etc., but every language itself
is different, hence, there is no universal syntax.

Bible translator
Wayne Leman
Bible translation site: http://bibletranslation.lookscool.com/

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