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ERIC Number: EJ857801
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0388-0001
Intuition, Acceptability and Grammaticality: A Reply to Riemer
Lopez-Serena, Araceli
Language Sciences, v31 n5 p634-648 Sep 2009
Riemer (2009) complains that a large number of sentences, despite appearing to be acceptable to many native speakers of English--including himself--are treated as ungrammatical in recent works that subscribe to the generative approach to (the English) language. In his opinion, this need not be considered "as evidence of an overly narrow evidentiary base", but rather as proof "of the predictive failure of current generative syntactic models". He claims that this conclusion is to be reached by eliminating the grammaticality/acceptability contrast, which is related to the opposition between I-language and E-language, respectively. In addition, he discusses the role of intuition in generative linguistics and the empirical status of Chomskyan linguistics as Galilean linguistics, although this discussion proceeds through contradictory assertions and in the end is revealed as having no significance for the general purpose of the argument. In this brief reply to Riemer I intend to show (1) that even if a huge proportion of "(bad) starred sentences" (i.e. wrongly starred as ungrammatical) are judged to be grammatical by however many native speakers of a language, this proves nothing about the predictive failure of generative linguistics, since autonomous linguistics has (and cannot have) any predictive character at all. Rather, it is useful for proving the relevance of speakers' intuitions as the only legitimate evidence for grammatical theorization and description; (2) that it is not sound--because it brings neither theoretical nor descriptive profit--to eliminate the distinction between grammaticality and acceptability; this must be maintained, although not in relation to the opposition between I-language and E-language but with respect to the Coserian distinction between linguistic and expressive knowledge; and (3) that Chomskyan linguistics is not an empirical science and thus cannot be legitimately called Galilean linguistics.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A