Show Less
Restricted access

Reflections on Syntax

Lectures in General Linguistics, Syntax, and Child Language Acquisition


Joseph Galasso

The lectures in this book are immensely Chomskyan in spirit, recursive-syntactic in nature, and tethered to a framework which takes as the null hypothesis the notion that language is an innate, pre-determined biological system—a system which by definition is multi-complex, human-specific, and analogous to a philosophy highly commensurate of Descartes’ great proverbial adage which announces the calling for a ‘ghost-in-the-machine’. The book begins with a gradual assessment of the kinds of complex constructs students of syntax need to work-up. Leading to the classic ‘Four-Sentences’—each of which bears as a kind of post-mark its own decade of Chomskyan analysis—we trace the origins of generative grammar from the fields of child language acquisition (of the 1960s), to psycholinguistics (of the 1970s), to where we stand today within the Minimalist Program. Various spin-off proposals have been spawned by envisioned analyses which treat syntactic movement as the quintessential human processing—a processing which would give rise to human language. Such spin-offs include ‘Proto-language’ and a new treatment of the so-called morpho-syntactic ‘Dual Mechanism Model’.

“This book provides a fascinating and highly individual perspective on language. It deals with a wide range of topics including the philosophy of language, its biological basis and evolution, as well as language acquisition, language disorders, language processing and language universals.” —Andrew Radford, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, University of Essex, United Kingdom

“Joseph Galasso builds a beautiful explanatory edifice that, engagingly, weaves together empirical evidence and current abstract theory of grammar in the best tradition of science: it combines ‘a passion for abstraction with a devotion to detail’. Implications for language acquisition, philosophy and every dimension of ‘biolinguistics’ are skillfully incorporated with a core representation of the concept of recursion. It should be very useful for scholars and students alike.” —Tom Roeper, Professor of Linguistics, UMass, South College