Structuring Sense: Volume I: In Name Only (Oxford Linguistics Structuring Sense)

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9780199263905: Structuring Sense: Volume I: In Name Only (Oxford Linguistics Structuring Sense)

Structuring Sense explores the difference between words however defined and structures however constructed. It sets out to demonstrate over three volumes, of which this is the first, that the explanation of linguistic competence should be shifted from lexical entry to syntactic structure, from memory of words to manipulation of rules. Its reformulation of how grammar and lexicon interact has profound implications for linguistic, philosophical, and psychological theories about human mind and language.

Hagit Borer departs from both constructional approaches to syntax and the long generative tradition that uses the word as the nucleus around which the syntax grows. She argues that the hierarchical, abstract structures of language are universal, not language specific, and that language variation emerges from the morphological and phonological properties of inflectional material.

In Name Only applies this radical approach to nominal structure. Integrating research in syntax, semantics, and morphology, the author argues that nominal structure is based on the syntactic realization of semantic notions such as classifier, quantity, and reference. In the process she seeks to do away with lexical ambiguity and type-shifting. Among the topics she considers are the interpretation of proper names, the mass-count distinction, the weak-strong interpretation of quantifiers, partitive and measure phrases, and the structural representation of the definite article. In the process she explores inter-language variation through the properties of the morpho-phonological system. The languages discussed include English, Chinese, Italian, and Hebrew.

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About the Author:

Hagit Borer received her Ph.D. in Linguistics at MIT in 1981. She has held positions at the University of California at Irvine and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and is currently the chair of the linguistics department at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include syntax, morphosyntax, the syntax-semantics interface, and the acquisition of syntax.


"Syntacticians like Borer define the big research questions for the rest of us. Two provocative and inspiring books."--Angelika Kratzer

"Hagit Borer's two volumes are a truly impressive achievement. She develops an original and careful theoretical framework, with far-reaching implications, as she describes. And she applies it in what have traditionally, and plausibly, been the two major domains of language: nominals and predication (event structure). The application is deeply informed and scrupulously executed, as well as remarkably comprehensive, covering a wide range of typologically different languages, and with much new material. No less valuable is her careful critical review of the rich literature on these topics, drawing from it where appropriate, identifying problems and developing alternatives within the general framework she has developed. These are sure to become basic sources for further inquiry into the fundamental issues she explores with such insight and understanding."--Noam Chomsky

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