Skeptical Linguistic Essays

Skeptical Linguistic Essays

by Paul M. Postal

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This volume consists of an introduction and two groups of essays by Paul M. Postal, each with a connecting theme. The first, positive group of papers, contains five previously unpublished studies of English syntax. These include a long study of so-called "locative inversion," two investigations related to raising to non-subject status, an argument for the existence of a hitherto ignored nominal grammatical category and a study of vulgar negative polarity items. Each investigation of specific English details is argued to have significant theoretical consequences. The second, negative group of papers, contains seven essays each of which seeks to show that aspects of contemporary linguistic activity are in part contaminated by elements of what is called "junk linguistics." Postal uses the term to denote work which advances proposals, puts forward claims and asserts deep results which, he argues, can only be accepted by ignoring serious standards of inquiry and scholarship. Postal claims that much of this work is nonetheless currently considered not only serious but prestigious reveals the problem to exist at the core of the field, not its periphery. These chapters include documentation of "junk linguistic" aspects in National Science Foundation refereeing, work on the foundations of linguistics, and even in widespread terminological usages. The final chapter briefly lists personal suggestions for dealing with this problem.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195166712
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 12/01/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 424
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Paul Postal is a Research Professor of Linguistics at New York University. His specialties are syntactic theory, English syntax, and the foundations of linguistics. He previously taught at MIT and the City University of New York, and is the author of twelve previous books and dozens of articles on linguistics.

Table of Contents

Part I: Studies in Linguistics
1. A Paradox in English Syntax
2. A Putatively Banned Type of Raising
3. A New Raising Mystery
4. Chromaticity: An Overlooked English Grammatical Category Distinction
5. The Structure of One Type of American English Vulgar Minimizer
6. The Openness of Natural Languages
Part II: Studies of Junk Linguistics
7. Junk Syntax 1: A Supposed Account of Strong Crossover Effects
8. Junk Syntax 2: "There Remain a Few As Yet Unexplained Exceptions"
9. Junk Ethics 1: Advances in Linguistic Rhetoric
10. Junk Refereeing: Our Tax Dollars at Work
11. Junk Ethics 2: The Most Irresponsible Passage
12. Junk Reasoning 1: If It Doesn't Follow Automatically, Then It's Pretty Much Got to at Least Virtually Follow, and If Not, Don't Worry; It Is Still Unquestionably Natural
13. Junk Reasoning 2: '(Virtually) Conceptually Necessary'
14. Junk Linguistics: The Bottom Line

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