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Possible and Probable LanguagesA Generative Perspective on Linguistic Typology$
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Frederick J. Newmeyer

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199274338

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199274338.001.0001

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In Defense of the Saussurean View of Grammar

In Defense of the Saussurean View of Grammar

(p.128) 4 In Defense of the Saussurean View of Grammar
Possible and Probable Languages

Frederick J. Newmeyer (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues in favor of the classical Saussurean position with respect to the relationship between knowledge of language and use of language, providing evidence in support of the idea that the mental grammar contributes to language use, but that usage, frequency, and so on are not represented in the grammar itself. The first two sections describe current ‘usage-based models’ and attempt to account for their popularity. The following three sections defend the classical position with arguments based on the compatibility of formal grammar and functional explanation, the failure of connectionism to provide an alternative to formal grammar, and the fact that speakers mentally represent full argument structure. The final sections argue against stochastic grammars and propose an evolutionary scenario that makes sense of the grammar-use distinction.

Keywords:   Saussurean position, argument structure, competence-performance dichotomy, connectionism, functional explanation, language evolution, langue and parole, Stochastic grammar, usage-based models

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