Words and Theories

Good starting points from LING 115 class on 25 September 2013.

I. What’s in a word?

  • Sound: Phonetic (and Phonological)
  • Meaning: Semantic
  • Category: Syntactic

I.e. formal linguistics in a nut-shell.

II. What would we expect from a ‘theory of syntax’?

1. Descriptive: If my theory accurately represents my mental representation.

2. Explanatory: If my theory gives a valid analysis of my mental representation.

(Following 2., I can expect to have a hypothesis about how my mental representation was constructed.)

3. Generative: If my theory reliably (or, perhaps, just mostly) generates representations that correspond to my mental representation.


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