Language as Cognitive Science

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1 Language as Cognitive Science Terje Lohndal University of Maryland University of Oslo, September Course description The goal of this intense course is to introduce students to the study of language from an internalistic point of view. This will be done by dividing the course into three parts: i) the philosophy of generative grammar, ii) the history of generative grammar, and iii) the Minimalist Program. These three snapshots will hopefully serve as useful entry points for students such that they can explore each of them in more depth on their own. The goal is to provide the students with a basic toolbox that enables them to read advanced textbooks and the original literature on their own. We will discuss what it means to study language, and look at a few approaches and discuss why the internalistic view is argued by Chomsky and others to be the most fruitful one. The goal is not to defend all the claims in the Chomskyan generative literature, but to make the methodology and approach clear. This will be done by looking at how generative grammar developed, both its philosophy and some of the technical aspects. Then we will do a whirlwind tour through the history of modern generative grammar and we will end up in the late 1980s. At that point we will slow down and the rest of the course will be an introduction to the Minimalist Program. We will spend a lot of time discussing how minimalism differs from other theories and try to develop a list of what a minimalist theory could look like. In addition, we will make sure to cover some of the central analyses and approaches in the literature. Rather than go into detail, the aim is to provide the students with a broader overview that will enable them to dive into the separate topics on their own. 1

2 2 Practical details WHERE: GM 141. WHEN: See the schedule for dates and times. OFFICE HOURS: Drop by my office in GM, or send me an at any time. 3 Requirements All students are expected to do the required readings ahead of time and participate in discussions. I aim for a very dynamic class and I hope everyone will take the opportunity to participate at any point. Since the course will introduce a lot of material, I will not expect you to read a lot of new literature during the course. For those who want to pursue some of the topics in more detail, I have provided a subdivided bibliography as part of this syllabus. This bibliography should also be helpful when writing the required paper. I expect the paper to draw on literature that goes beyond the required readings. All students are strongly encouraged to meet with me to discuss the paper topic and also ask for advice on literature etc. PhD-students: In order to get 5 credits for this course, students must submit a paper via to me by October 15. The paper should be at most 5 double-spaced pages, excluding the bibliography. A one-page proposal, including references, is due on September 19. The proposal will ensure that everyone has something to write about by the time I leave Oslo. For those students who want to write a more substantial paper (more than 10 pages), they can get 10 credits. MA-students: In order to get 10 credits for this course, students must submit a paper via to me by October 15. The paper should be around 5 double-spaced pages, excluding the bibliography. A one-page proposal, including references, is due on September 19. The proposal will ensure that everyone has something to write about by the time I leave Oslo. 2

3 4 Schedule Day Topic Required readings Mon 5 Intro + Philosophy: Innateness Chomsky (1986: ch. 1-2) Fri 9 Philosophy: Rationalism Chomsky (1965: ch. 1), Bracken (1984: ch. 1) Mon 12 Philosophy: Truth and reference Pietroski (2005) Tue 13 From Syntactic Structures to LGB Lasnik and Lohndal (In press) Thu 15 From Syntactic Structures to LGB Lasnik and Lohndal (In press) Fri 16 Intro to the Minimalist Program (MP) Boeckx (2006: ch. 3) Mon 19 Basics of the MP Hornstein (2001: ch. 1 ) Tue 20 The MP: Phrase Structure Hornstein et al. (2005: ch. 6) Thu 22 The MP: Control Boeckx et al. (2010: ch. 1, 2, 8) Fri 23 Summary and the future Boeckx (2010: epilogue) All the required readings can be downloaded from the following addresses: tlohndal/boeckx06.pdf tlohndal/boeckx10.pdf tlohndal/boeckxetal10.pdf tlohndal/bracken84.pdf tlohndal/chomsky65.pdf tlohndal/chomsky86.pdf tlohndal/hornstein01.pdf tlohndal/hornsteinetal05.pdf tlohndal/lasniklohndal.pdf tlohndal/pietroski05.pdf 3

4 5 Additional readings for research papers etc. 5.1 Innateness, rationalism and naturalism Bracken, Harry Descartes. Oxford: Oneworld Publication. Chomsky, Noam A review of B.F. Skinner s Verbal Behavior. Language 35: Chomsky, Noam Cartesian Linguistics. New York: Harper & Row. Chomsky, Noam Reflections on Language. New York: Pantheon Books. Chomsky, Noam Language and Problems of Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Chomsky, Noam New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. Cambridge: Chomsky, Noam On Nature and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chs. 2-3] Crain, Stephen and Paul Pietroski Nature, Nurture, and Universal Grammar. Linguistics and Philosophy 24: Hornstein, Norbert. 2005a. Foreword: Chomsky s Natural Philosophy. In Rules and Representation, Noam Chomsky, vii-xlix. New York: Columbia University Press. Hornstein, Norbert. 2005b. Empiricism and rationalism as research strategies. In The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky, ed. by James McGilvray, Cambridge: Knowles, Jonathan Davidson versus Chomsky: Om Fellesspråket. Norsk Filosofisk Tidsskrift 46: Lohndal, Terje and Hiroki Narita Internalism as Methodology. Biolinguistics 3: McGilvray, James Introduction to the third edition. In Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought, Noam Chomsky, Cambridge: 4

5 Pietroski, Paul and Stephen Crain Innate ideas. In The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky, ed. by James McGilvray, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Smith, Neil Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Chs. 1, 4] 5.2 Truth and reference Anthony, Louise and Norbert Hornstein (eds.) Chomsky and His Critics. Malden: Blackwell. Bilgrami, Akeel Chomsky and Philosophy. Mind and Language 17: Bilgrami, Akeel and Carol Rovane Mind, language, and the limits of inquiry. In The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky, ed. by James McGilvray, Cambridge: Chomsky, Noam New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind. Cambridge: [Ch. 2] McGilvray, James Meaning and creativity. In The Cambridge Companion to Chomsky, ed. by James McGilvray, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pietroski, Paul The Character of Natural Language Semantics. In Epistemology of Language, ed. by Alex Barber, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pietroski, Paul Character Before Content. In Content and Modality: Themes from the Philosophy of Robert Stalnaker, ed. by Judith Jarvis Thomson and Alex Byrne, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 5.3 From Syntactic Structures to LGB Carnie, Andrew Syntax. Malden: Blackwell. [2nd ed.] Haegeman, Liliane Introduction to Government and Binding Theory. Malden: Blackwell. [2nd ed.] 5

6 Haegeman, Liliane Thinking Syntactically: A Guide to Argumentation and Analysis. Malden: Blackwell. [Ch. 1] Roberts, Ian Comparative Syntax. London: Hodder Arnold. Smith, Neil Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Ch. 2] 5.4 The Minimalist Program Adger, David Core Syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chomsky, Noam On Nature and Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Ch. 4] Hinzen, Wolfram Mind Design and Minimal Syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Radford, Andrew Analysing English Sentences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 6

7 References Boeckx, Cedric Linguistic Minimalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Boeckx, Cedric Language in Cognition: Uncovering Mental Structures and the Rules Behind Them. Malden, MA: Blackwell. Boeckx, Cedric, Norbert Hornstein, and Jairo Nunes Control as Movement. Cambridge: Bracken, Harry Mind and Language: Essays on Descartes and Chomsky. Dordrecht: Foris. Chomsky, Noam Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Chomsky, Noam Knowledge of Language. New York: Praeger. Hornstein, Norbert Move! A Minimalist Theory of Construal. Oxford: Blackwell. Hornstein, Norbert, Jairo Nunes, and Kleanthes K. Grohmann Understanding Minimalism. Cambridge: Lasnik, Howard, and Terje Lohndal. In press. Brief Overview of the History of Generative Syntax. In The Cambridge Handbook of Generative Syntax, ed. Marcel den Dikken. Cambridge: Pietroski, Paul Meaning before Truth. In Contextualism in Philosophy, ed. Gerhard Preyer and Georg Peters, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 7

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