The Language Instinct has definitely made it to the top three list of my all time favorite books. Written in an informative yet accessible way, every chapter both a new discovery, a challenge and a new adventure, The Language Instinct is the equivalent of an erudite yet enjoyable travel companion who entertains rather than lectures the reader with its knowledge.
And just like the end of a pleasant journey, it is deeply sad to finally reach the last page. At the same time, just like every formative experience in life, when you finally reach the end cover, you walk away from The Language Instinct enriched in mind and spirit....Continua
Noem Chomsky: One of the most important linguists ever lived, who virtually modernized linguistics.
A sentence can consist of a noun phrase and a verb phrase
NP-->(det) N (PP)
A noun phrase can consist of an optional determiner, a noun, and an optional prepositional phrase
VP--> V NP (PP)
A verb phrase can consist of a verb, a noun phrase, and an optional prepositional phrase
PP--> P NP
A prepositional phrase can consist of a preposition and a noun phrse.
There is a universal and innate phrase structure for all languages called "Super Rules":
XP--> (SPEC) X-bar YP*
A phrase consists of an optional subject, followed by an X-bar, followd by any number of modifiers
An x-bar consists of a head X and any number of role-players, in either order
X, Y, Z can be noun, verb, adjective or preposition....
Chomsky suggests that the Super Rules are universal and innate, and that when children learn a particular language, they do not have to learn a long list of rule, because they were born knowing the super-rules. All they have to learn is whether their particular language has the parameter value head-first, as in Enlgish or head-last, as in Japanese.
e.g., English says "Eat your spinach", while Japanese says "Your spinach Eat". The order of verb is different.
Deep Strucutre and Surface Structure:
- Every scentence has two phrase structures. The phrase structure that is defined by the super-rules, is the deep structure.
- Deep structure is the interface between the mental dictionary and phrase strucutre.
- But, we can move the scentence structure into the final resulting scentence: The Surface Structure.
- Separating language into deep and surface structure is to allow us to move around the rigid phrase structure so that we can move around the role-players to convey meanings more preceisely and accurately.
The mental program that analyzes sentence strucutre during language comprehension is called the praser.
Short-term memory is the primary bottleneck in human information processing. We can only hold seven, plus or minus two times at once in the mind, and the itmes are immediately subject to fading or being overweitten.
Language is ambiguios and also with a branch of different possible paths lead to different meaning when we go through a scentence.
Computer praser computing dozens of doomed tree fragments in the background, and the unlikely ones are somehow filtered out before they reach consciousness -- Breadth-first search.
Human praser somehow gambles at each step about the alternative most likely to be true and then plows ahead with single interpretation as far as possible.
Garden Path Sentences:
e.g., Fat people eat accumulates.
meaning behind: carbohydrates that people eat are quickly broken down, but fat people eat accumulates.
The first words (Fat people) lead the lilstener "up the garden path" to an incorrect analysis.
Garden path sentences are one of the hallmarks of bad wrinting. sentences are not laid out with clear markers at every frok, allowing the reader to stride confidently through to the end....Continua