Cognitax Tool Grammar: Re-factoring the Generative Program; A pervasive action dimension for linguistic description, theory and models
Larry Smith
July 2019
 

Operative Motivating Hypotheses of Tool Grammar 1. There exists an empirically evident necessity for representation of linguistic structural action intent which has been generally overlooked in the theory of language, including centralized configurational syntax in the generative program. 2. Linguistic structural action intent extends the basic Chomskyan focus on linguistic creativity (unbounded generation from finite means) to a new level of representation useful for explaining and constraining the inventive the means by which the species-specific features of human language are effected. Theoretical gains are sought by extending the Chomskyan idea to generation of structure from intent. 3. The inclusion of intention in linguistic rules both enables solutions of resistant and intractable problems, and otherwise enables a wider set of more generalized and more natural solutions. 4. The exclusion of linguistic intention and action from generative rules introduces artefactual complexity and precludes the strongest possible natural constraints on characterizations of the human faculty of language. 5. Theorizing based on linguistic action intent leads to thinner, simplified, more directly empirical argumentation compared to the indirections necessitated by complex syntactic analysis based on central configurational syntax. 6. The inclusion of linguistic action intent in generative rules enables a deepening understanding of the role of generative constructs such as C-Command and Merge in the computational facility which underlies human language, revealing a new level of significance for Minimalism’s most basic claims.. 7. Careful examination of linguistic intent as a methodology can greatly reduce the entropy of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic theory by independently explaining a plethora of ill formed sentences in a straightforward way, leaving a more tractable set of separate theoretical problems for these disciplines. 8. Scientific validity is enhanced by revising the architecture of generative linguistics from a bi-directional sound-meaning connection to a functional connection between linguistic action intention and external linguistic representation. Introduction and Summary Are there alternate paths to explanatory theories based on extensions or revisions of Chomsky’s programmatic axioms and architecture of linguistic competence? Specifically, might scientific validity be enhanced by re-factoring the architecture of generative linguistics from a directly mathematical sound-meaning connection to a functional connection between linguistic intention and linguistic expression? Can the operational presence of structural intention in generative grammar illuminate further the fundamental significance of C-Command and Merge operations of the Minimalist Program? Might linguistic structural intent extend the basic Chomskyan focus on linguistic creativity (unbounded generation from finite means) to a new level of representation useful for explaining and constraining the inventive means by which the species-specific features of human language are effected? Can theoretical gains be achieved by extending the Chomskyan idea to generation of structure from linguistic intent oriented more to the creative generative process of sentence creation than interpretation by the listener? Is Chomsky’s profound attention to the creativity of human language enhanced by extension to the domain of linguistic structural intent? The main thesis of the present work is that there exists an empirically evident necessity for the representation of linguistic structural intent which has been generally overlooked in the theory of language, including notably centralized configurational syntax in the generative program. We propose and motivate Tool Grammar , in which a sentence is an action, a performance wherein intention is central rather than syntax. A sentence intention is a formative set of decisions for external representation of thought by means of highly constrained, conventional, interlocking structures and processes, which we call ‘tools’. Each tool is an intentional device for specific effect in the process of utterance generation, distinguished from the traditional concept of a linguistic ‘rule’ by the explicit specification of intent added to the standard structural input and output conditions. The data essential for motivating linguistic descriptions is thus enhanced by explicit field transcriptions of evident user action and intent using a controlled scientific vocabulary. Tool Grammar (TG) postulates that sentence generation exhibits linguistic cognitive actions most fundamentally and syntax processes more procedurally, parallel to but distinguished from the Chomskyan hypothesis that humans are fundamentally “syntactical animals”. (Searle, June 29, 1972) The crux of resolution for this contrast is whether TG better can enable stronger constraints on the definition of human language than more rigidly syntax-centered accounts. A revision of the architecture of competence shifting away from the strict centrality of syntax can increase the potential for explanatory power in the generative program. Several specific conceptions of language characterize the TG approach to linguistic analysis. • While the Generative Program has not always built on a clear definition of the basic units of language, TG defines a sentence as that externalized communication structure which carries the selective representation of meaning resulting from the targeted set of speaker decisions made for the purpose of effecting linguistic intent. This definition orients the sentence to speaker action rather than interpretation thereby distinguishing linguistic intent from the wider phenomena of interpretation and implication that characterize receptive activities. A language therefore is conceived not so much as a set of sentences that need to be accounted for, but a set of structures considered in the context of active decisions about structure and representation on the part of the speaker. • While the Generative Program has classically taken as its basic problem to develop a theory of the non-directional syntactic connection between meaning (logical form) and output (e.g. phonological form), (Chomsky, Sophia Lectures, 2014) TG re-factors the architecture of language competence rather to connect linguistic intentions to output as a directional generative process. This at once adds an intention generator as a new module in the competence framework and also defines a new relationship to truth functional interpretation semantics and the study of implication. For TG, the meanings hearers take from an utterance, which are evidently various and diverse, involve a different set of processes from the speaker’s intentional engagement to represent particular meaning structures. This means that the various interpretations that might or might not be taken from a particular utterance warrant a separate analysis from that of the representation the speaker intended to make. Another consequence of this re-factoring is that the source of creativity and recursion is moved outside the purveyance of syntax to the intention module. TG holds that language has the external representation of meaning as a purpose and tools as a means of action. Natural constraints on the inter-compatibility of tools render many rules and constraints on configurational syntax unnecessary, since unacceptable sentences often reflect the incompatible misapplication of tools. A broad swath of linguistic ill-formedness can be attributed to structures involving incompatible intents. As an illustration, the following examples provide a taste of how the intention of the passive tool can conflict with the intentions of other tools: the passive structure, drawing attention away from the agent, is vulnerable to conflict from a tool centering on the agent. Al visited the sick woman. The sick woman was visited by Al. What was surprising about Al was that he visited the sick woman. *What was surprising about Al was that the sick woman was visited by Al (him). We observe here incompatibility between tools in opposition, at cross purposes, to both add and take away special attention to the agent. This is one tip-of-the-iceberg example of the myriad issues, far beyond the simple topic/focus conflict seen here, that can be handled in a straightforward way if intention is represented in linguistic rules. When this approach is extended to many other areas of syntax, attractive and simplified solutions become available for a surprisingly wide range of problems. The operative hypotheses of this paper surround the question whether linguistic rules are preferably formulated in terms of linguistic structural intentions, a theoretical position that has perhaps not heretofore been fully examined to resolution. From a preponderance of diverse cases involving linguistic problems that resist authoritative solutions, we seek to demonstrate that linguistic theory is strengthened when it inclines toward incorporation of components of linguistic action and intention. The goal is to show that the exclusion of linguistic intention and action from generative rules introduces artefactual complexity and undesirably precludes the discovery of powerful natural constraints on characterizations of the human faculty of language. The inclusion of intention in linguistic rules both enables solutions of otherwise intractable problems and enables simpler, more natural solutions generally. Theorizing based on linguistic intent leads to thinner, simplified, more directly empirical argumentation compared to the indirections necessitated by complex syntactic analysis based on central configurational syntax. TG argumentation, by adding a new dimension of recordable and verifiable data subject to independent validation, thereby enjoys resistance to the view that it is merely stipulative or reductionist and facilitates a new way of looking at generative grammar.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003212
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Unpublished
keywords: syntax, intention, action, pragmatics, semantics, functional, cognitive, cognitax, tool grammar, syntax
previous versions: v7 [December 2018]
v6 [December 2017]
v5 [September 2017]
v4 [July 2017]
v3 [February 2017]
v2 [December 2016]
v1 [November 2016]
Downloaded:1457 times

 

[ edit this article | back to article list ]