Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
People aren't legalistic, so why should we expect one of our defining characteristics—language—to be legalistic? Only a liberal with a Chomskyan linguistic tradition would describe that sentence as grammatical, but grammar isn't just a set of rules which can be automatically generated. You can, indeed, write rules that capture English sentences, but they don't become the grammar, and if they throw up silly examples like this, it shows there is a problem with the rules, or with the theories that made the rules properly.
Being bombarded with sentences like that (as well as "the horse ran past the barn fell"), and the contrast between Chomskyan linguistics and what our brains actually do when we understand sentences, has actually helped bring me to a more traditionalist view on life.
Perhaps I should write about that on my blog at some point.
F. T. Alexander |
November 04, 2011 at 04:46 AM
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Making sense of the coming catastrophe.