The Philosophy of Universal Grammar

Paperback | December 5, 2015

byWolfram Hinzen, Michelle Sheehan

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What is grammar? Why does it exist? What difference, if any, does it make to the organization of meaning? This book seeks to give principled answers to these questions. Its topic is "universal" grammar, in the sense that grammar is universal to human populations. But while modern generativegrammar stands in the tradition of "Cartesian linguistics" as emerging in the 17th century, this book re-addresses the question of the grammatical in a broader historical frame, taking inspiration from Modistic and Ancient Indian philosopher-linguists to formulate a different and "Un-Cartesian"programme in linguistic theory. Its core claim is that the organization of the grammar is not distinct from the organization of human thought. This sapiens-specific mode of thought is uniquely propositional: grammar, therefore, organizes propositional forms of reference and makes knowledge possible.Such a claim has explanatory power as well: the grammaticalization of the hominin brain is critical to the emergence of our mind and our speciation. A thoroughly interdisciplinary endeavour, the book seeks to systematically integrate the philosophy of language and linguistic theory. It casts a fresh look at core issues that any philosophy of (universal) grammar will need to address, such as the distinction between lexical and grammaticalmeaning, the significance of part of speech distinctions, the grammar of reference and deixis, the relation between language and reality, and the dimensions of cross-linguistic and bio-linguistic variation.

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What is grammar? Why does it exist? What difference, if any, does it make to the organization of meaning? This book seeks to give principled answers to these questions. Its topic is "universal" grammar, in the sense that grammar is universal to human populations. But while modern generativegrammar stands in the tradition of "Cartesian ...

Wolfram Hinzen is a Research Professor at the Catalan Institute for Advanced Studies and Research (ICREA) and is affiliated with the Linguistics department of the University of Barcelona and the Philosophy Department of the University of Durham (2006-2014). He writes on issues in the interface of language and mind. He is the author of...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.07 inPublished:December 5, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198736681

ISBN - 13:9780198736684

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Table of Contents

1. The project of a science of language2. Before there was grammar3. The content of grammar4. Deriving the formal ontology of Language5. Cross-linguistic variation6. The rationality of case7. Language and speciation8. Biolinguistic variation9. Thought, language, and reality

Editorial Reviews

"This book asks some of the most fundamental questions that there can be about language and mind, and answers them in ways which are provocative, challenging, and surprising, in the context of current theorizing within philosophy and linguistics. The theory is supported by a wealth ofconceptual and empirical arguments with detailed discussion of consequences for central grammatical notions such as case, person, word order, phases, and semantic notions such as reference, predication, and truth. This must be one of the most important books about language and thought in a very longtime." --Anders Holmberg, Professor of Theoretical Linguistics, Newcastle University