The atoms of language / Mark C. Bakerst ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN (hc); (pbk). 1. Bart de Boer () Book Review of The Atoms of Language: The Mind's Hidden. Rules of Grammar by Mark C. Baker and Foundations of Language: Brain. I have given this book a five-star rating for several reasons--five, to be exact. First, Mark Baker's writing is clear and accessible to non-linguists. Second, he has.

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Mark C. Baker, The atoms of language: the mind's hidden rules of grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Pp. xi+ - Volume specialty is language change and language contact. He is the Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, on how the world's The Atoms of Language. with language and biology, one of many such initiatives, including the. Royaumont .. One illustration is Mark Baker's demonstration, in his book Atoms of Language .. (19 November, ).].

The application of the idea of universal grammar to the study of second language acquisition SLA is represented mainly in the work of McGill linguist Lydia White.

Syntacticians generally hold that there are parametric points of variation between languages, although heated debate occurs over whether UG constraints are essentially universal due to being "hard-wired" Chomsky's principles and parameters approach , a logical consequence of a specific syntactic architecture the generalized phrase structure approach or the result of functional constraints on communication the functionalist approach.

The first hypothesis states that the faculty of language in the broad sense FLb is strictly homologous to animal communication. This means that homologous aspects of the faculty of language exist in non-human animals.

The second hypothesis states that the FLb is a derived, uniquely human, adaptation for language. This hypothesis holds that individual traits were subject to natural selection and came to be specialized for humans. The third hypothesis states that only the faculty of language in the narrow sense FLn is unique to humans. It holds that while mechanisms of the FLb are present in both human and non-human animals, the computational mechanism of recursion is recently evolved solely in humans.

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History[ edit ] The idea of a universal grammar can be traced back to Roger Bacon 's observations in his c. The concept of a universal grammar or language was at the core of the 17th century projects for philosophical languages. There is a Scottish school of universal grammarians from the 18th century, as distinguished from the philosophical language project, which included authors such as James Beattie , Hugh Blair , James Burnett , James Harris , and Adam Smith.

The idea rose to prominence and influence, in modern linguistics with theories from Chomsky and Montague in the s—s, as part of the " linguistics wars ". During the early 20th century, in contrast, language was usually understood from a behaviourist perspective, suggesting that language acquisition, like any other kind of learning, could be explained by a succession of trials, errors, and rewards for success. For example, when a child says "milk" and the mother will smile and give her some as a result, the child will find this outcome rewarding, thus enhancing the child's language development.

This implies in turn that all languages have a common structural basis: the set of rules known as "universal grammar". Speakers proficient in a language know which expressions are acceptable in their language and which are unacceptable.

The key puzzle is how speakers come to know these restrictions of their language, since expressions that violate those restrictions are not present in the input, indicated as such. Chomsky argued that this poverty of stimulus means that Skinner's behaviourist perspective cannot explain language acquisition.

The absence of negative evidence—evidence that an expression is part of a class of ungrammatical sentences in a given language—is the core of his argument. Speakers of the local language do not use them, or note them as unacceptable to language learners. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Whether all human languages are fundamentally the same or different has been a subject of debate for ages.

This problem has deep philosophical implications: If languages are all the same, it implies a fundamental commonality--and thus mutual intelligibility--of human thought. We are now on the verge of solving this problem. Using a twenty-year-old theory proposed by the world's greatest living linguist, Noam Chomsky, researchers have found that the similarities among languages are more profound than the differences.

Languages whose grammars seem completely incompatible may in fact be structurally almost identical, except for a difference in one simple rule. The discovery of these rules and how they may vary promises to yield a linguistic equivalent of the Periodic Table of the Elements: This is a landmark breakthrough both within linguistics, which will herewith finally become a full-fledged science, and in our understanding of the human mind.

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Contemporary Linguistics: FREE Shipping. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. An Introduction. The Sense of Style: Steven Pinker. The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language. John McWhorter. The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language P.

Harper Perennial Modern Classics. Syntactic Structures. Noam Chomsky. Introductory Phonology. Bruce Hayes.

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Review " The Atoms of Language is a welcome introduction to what many linguists are actually engaged in every day. Read more. Product details Paperback: Basic Books; Reprint edition October 8, Language: English ISBN Start reading The Atoms Of Language: Don't have a site? Try the site edition and experience these great reading features: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention atoms of language word order mark baker principles and parameters periodic table navajo code table of elements baker atoms introduction to linguistics baker explains language example baker writing baker uses throughout the book world languages chemistry mohawk differences grammar rules chomsky.

Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Paperback Verified download. I have given this book a five-star rating for several reasons--five, to be exact. First, Mark Baker's writing is clear and accessible to non-linguists. Second, he has settled the language "differences" versus "similarities" debate. Third, he has pointed the way toward a resolution of the problem of what it is about language that seems to "shape" our thoughts.

Fourth, he includes illustrations, tables, maps, and other visual aids that help readers understand his major points. In this review, I will focus on the second point mentioned above, namely the question of which is more important in languages, their underlying grammar or their everyday features? But first, I will give some background that I hope will help readers unfamiliar with but curious about this topic.

Experience from birth with our own language s gives us cues or clues as to how the switches should be set. For example, almost all languages have what we call subjects S , verbs V , and objects O. If there were just two settings, then that would give us six options by simple multiplication. Subsequently, morphology i. American linguist Norbert Hornstein wrote that before Syntactic Structures , linguistic research was overly preoccupied with creating hierarchies and categories of all observable language data.

One of the "lasting contributions" of Syntactic Structures is that it shifted the linguistic research methodology to abstract, rationalist theory-making based on contacts with data, which is the "common scientific practice". The generative grammar of Syntactic Structures heralded Chomsky's mentalist perspective in linguistic analysis.

Shortly after its publication, in , Chomsky wrote a critical review [80] of B. Skinner 's Verbal Behavior. Chomsky opposed this behaviorist model. He argued that humans produce language using separate syntactic and semantic components inside the mind. He presented the generative grammar as a coherent abstract description of this underlying psycholinguistic reality. It changed the course of the discipline in the following years. Syntactic Structures initiated an interdisciplinary dialog between philosophers of language and linguists.

American philosopher John Searle called it a "remarkable intellectual achievement" of its time. He compared the book "to the work of Keynes or Freud ". He credited it with producing not only a "revolution in linguistics", but also having a "revolutionary effect" on " philosophy and psychology ". They also believed in the existence of rules in the human mind which bind meanings to utterances.

The investigation of these rules started a new era in philosophical semantics. With its formal and logical treatment of language, Syntactic Structures also brought linguistics and the new field of computer science closer together. Computer scientist Donald Knuth winner of the Turing Award recounted that he read Syntactic Structures in and was influenced by it.

In , a group of French neuroscientists conducted research to verify if actual brain mechanisms worked in the way that Chomsky suggested in Syntactic Structures. The results suggested that specific regions of the brain handle syntactic information in an abstract way. These are independent from other brain regions that handle semantic information.

Moreover, the brain analyzes not just mere strings of words, but hierarchical structures of constituents. These observations validated the theoretical claims of Chomsky in Syntactic Structures. In , neuroscientists at New York University conducted experiments to verify if the human brain uses "hierarchical structure building" for processing languages. They measured the magnetic and electric activities in the brains of participants.

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The results showed that "[human] brains distinctly tracked three components of the phrases they heard. In his presidential address to the Linguistic Society of America , American linguist Charles Hockett considered Syntactic Structures one of "only four major breakthroughs in modern linguistics".

By , Hockett rejected "[Chomsky's] frame of reference in almost every detail". Hockett believes such an idealization is not possible.

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He claims that there is no empirical evidence that our language faculty is, in reality, a well-defined underlying system. The sources that give rise to language faculty in humans, e.

Contrary to Hockett, British linguist Geoffrey Sampson thought that Chomsky's assumptions about a well-defined grammaticality are "[justified] in practice. He considers it a "great positive contribution to the discipline". For him, it relies too much on native speakers' subjective introspective judgments about their own language.

Consequently, language data empirically observed by impersonal third parties are given less importance. According to Sampson, Syntactic Structures largely owes its good fortune of becoming the dominant theoretical paradigm in the following years to the charisma of Chomsky's intellect. Nevertheless, Sampson's argument runs, Syntactic Structures , albeit "sketchy", derived its "aura of respectability" from LSLT lurking in the background.

In turn, the acceptance of Chomsky's future works rested on the success of Syntactic Structures. Pullum , Syntactic Structures boldly claims that "it is impossible, not just difficult" for finite-state devices to generate all grammatical sentences of English, and then alludes to LSLT for the "rigorous proof" of this. But in reality, LSLT does not contain a valid, convincing proof dismissing finite-state devices. Pullum also remarks that the "originality" of Syntactic Structures is "highly overstated".

For him, it "does not properly credit the earlier literature on which it draws". But "few linguists are aware of this, because Post's papers are not cited. This is downplayed in Syntactic Structures. In , Pullum and another British linguist Gerald Gazdar argued that Chomsky's criticisms of context-free phrase structure grammar in Syntactic Structures are either mathematically flawed or based on incorrect assessments of the empirical data.

They stated that a purely phrase structure treatment of grammar can explain linguistic phenomena better than one that uses transformations. In , University of Minnesota 's Center for Cognitive Sciences compiled a list of the most influential works in cognitive science from the 20th century. In total, scholarly works and one movie were nominated via the internet. Syntactic Structures was ranked number one on this list, marking it as the most influential work of cognitive science of the century.

Syntactic Structures was also featured in a list of best English language non-fiction books since picked by the American weekly magazine Time.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Syntactic Structures Cover of the first edition. See also: Grammaticality and Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Transformational grammar. It's not a mere reorganization of the data into a new kind of library catalog, nor another speculative philosophy about the nature of Man and Language, but a rather rigorous explanation of our intuitions about language in terms of an overt axiom system, the theorems derivable from it, explicit results which may be compared with new data and other intuitions, all based plainly on an overt theory of the internal structure of languages".

In Chomsky , p. Van Schooneveld [a Dutch linguist who was associated with Mouton] showed up here once and took a look at some of my course notes from the undergraduate course I was teaching and said I ought to publish it. That's the story of Syntactic Structures: Structuralism became the "vieux jeu" of the older "establishment" generation, swept aside by the transformational-generativism of the young rebels.

Many psychologists were quick to attribute generative systems to the minds of speakers and quick to abandon It was written by his father, William Chomsky , one of the leading Hebrew scholars at the time. See Barsky , p. Retrieved 16 November Chomsky has given much-needed assistance with the manuscript.

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See Chomsky , p. I've already told you that I did not have the impression the reaction on the part of linguists was surprising. Quite rightly, I think, because at that time the situation was very unfavourable for a general book on that subject, especially one by an unknown author.

I also submitted a technical article on simplicity and explanation to the journal Word, at the suggestion of Roman Jakobson, but it was rejected virtually by return mail.

So I had little hope of seeing any of this work published, at least in a linguistic journal. It foreshadows many of the concepts presented in Syntactic Structures. This letter accompanied the final version of the manuscript. Voegelin considers Lees to be "Chomsky's explicator".

Chomsky himself considers Lees's review "provocative. According to Sklar See also Newmeyer and Newmeyer ; For a critical and elaborate account, consult the contributions in Kibbee To read about an alternative take which casts doubt on whether a revolution really took place, consult Koerner Three decades after his original review, Searle wrote that "Judged by the objectives stated in the original manifestoes, the revolution has not succeeded.

Something else may have succeeded, or may eventually succeed, but the goals of the original revolution have been altered and in a sense abandoned. Post ". Furthermore, 'generate' seems to be the most appropriate translation for Humboldt's term erzeugen , which he frequently uses, it seems, in essentially the sense here intended. Since this use of the term 'generate' is well established both in logic and in the tradition of linguistic theory. Chomsky characterized this approach as the "Galilean Style" of inquiry which had already been applied in modern natural sciences with "great success" since the 17th century.

The work of Chomsky in generative linguistics apparently inspired much more confidence in philosophers and logicians to assert that perhaps natural languages weren't as unsystematic and misleading as their philosophical predecessors had made them out to be And people began to realize that such methods are highly relevant to the artificial languages that were becoming popular for computer programming, even though natural languages like English remained intractable.

I found the mathematical approach to grammar immediately appealing—so much so, in fact, that I must admit to taking a copy of Noam Chomsky's Syntactic Structures along with me on my honeymoon in During odd moments, while crossing the Atlantic in an ocean liner and while camping in Europe, I read that book rather thoroughly and tried to answer some basic theoretical questions. Here was a marvelous thing: The mathematical, linguistic, and algorithmic parts of my life had previously been totally separate.

During the ensuing years those three aspects became steadily more intertwined; and by the end of the s I found myself a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, primarily because of work that I had done with respect to languages for computer programming. Syntactic Structures". Retrieved 14 October Faculty of Language.

Retrieved 18 July New York University. Aronoff, Mark , "Face the facts: Presses Universitaires de Paris Ouest, pp.A Critical Period in Humans".

McLean; C. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. So I had little hope of seeing any of this work published, at least in a linguistic journal. Historical Linguistics. In Graham, George; Bechtel, William.