Monday, March 17, 2014
Hoisted from the comments
Dennis O linked to this paper by Sascha Felix. It provides a thumbnail history of GG, the relation between descriptive and explanatory motives for language study and the effects that MP had on this. His description strikes me as more or less correct. I have one quibble: As I've noted before, MP is not really an alternative to GB and the problem of explanatory adequacy does not go away because we are interested in going beyond explanatory adequacy. The way I think we should look at things is that GB is the "effective theory" and MP aims to provide a more fundamental account of its generalizations. This said, I think Felix has largely identified the cleavage in syntax today and he rightly has noted that what made the field exciting for many occupies a very very small part of what constitutes current research. I have been won't to describe this as saying that Greenberg won. At its best, the current enterprise aims to find the patterns and describe them. The larger vision, the one that makes linguistics interesting for Chomsky, Felix and me is largely a marginal activity. As I noted in an earlier post, I believe that this will have baleful effects for the discipline as a whole unless we witness the resurgence of an interest in philology by the culture as a whole. Don't bet on it.