Philosophical Foundations of Language Study
G61.1710-001 31208


Prof. Ray C. Dougherty
New York University | Linguistics Department

This course description is available in postscript and in zipped postscript.

HELP || LING || COURSES || Basics | Overview | Syllabus | Project | Students

Preliminary Version
Final Version Will Be Given Out in Class

CAVEAT: For all courses the definitive edition of the course is found in the hard copy pages distributed in class. These pages on the web are placed here by students working with Prof. Dougherty, see the HTML Gesellschaft. They are not always up to date.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The class will focus on Chomsky's concept of explanation in linguistics. We will consider his early definitions (1957,1965) of observational, descriptive, and explanatory adequacy and see how they have evolved into the underpinnings of the minimalist program. We will compare Chomsky's views of language with those of Charles Sanders Peirce. We will discuss explanation deriving from external motivation (the relation of generative grammar to studies of perception, performance, parsing, language acquisition, and so on), and internal motivation (the ability of a theory/grammar to provide an insightful analysis of some distribution or interpretation of natural language data). We will discuss three types of constructions in order to see how they have been analyzed from pre-government and binding analyses into the minimalist program. The three constructions are:


COURSE REQUIREMENTS: The requirements are detailed in the document: Course Final Project. All course work may be submitted either as a printed document or as a set of HTML pages on the WWW.

COMPUTER ACCOUNT: Each student registered for the class will have an account on the ACF4 Unix Vax and accounts to the IBM PC and Macintosh Labs. These are connected to the WWW.


RECOMMENDED: Many books, articles, and other readings will be placed on reserve in Bobst Library and in the Linguistics Department Library, 719 Broadway, Fifth Floor. Many, perhaps most, of the readings are available on the World Wide Web and can be downloaded by students. You will learn to use the WWW browser.

EXAMS: There are no examinations. There are three assignments culminating in a final project.