Limiting the Arbitrary: Linguistic Naturalism and Its Opposites in Plato's Cratylus and the Modern Theories of Language
The idea that some aspects of language are 'natural', while others are arbitrary, artificial or derived, runs all through modern linguistics, from Chomsky's GB theory and Minimalist program and his concept of E- and I-language, to Greenberg's search for linguistic universals, Pinker's views on regular and irregular morphology and the brain, and the markedness-based constraints of Optimality Theory. This book traces the heritage of this linguistic naturalism back to its locus classicus, Plato's dialogue Cratylus. The first half of the book is a detailed examination of the linguistic arguments in the Cratylus. The second half follows three of the dialogue's naturalistic themes through subsequent linguistic history natural grammar and conventional words, from Aristotle to Pinker; natural dialect and artificial language, from Varro to Chomsky; and invisible hierarchies, from Jakobson to Optimality Theory in search of a way forward beyond these seductive yet spurious and limiting dichotomies.
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INTRODUCTION NATURAL AND UNNATURAL LANGUAGE
Part One Cratylus
CHAPTER 1 NATURE AND CONVENTION CRATYLUS 383A1391D1
CHAPTER 2 WORDS AND TRUTH CRATYLUS 391D2422E1
CHAPTER 3 IMITATION AND ESSENCE CRATYLUS 422E1440E7
Part Two After Cratylus
CHAPTER 4 NATURAL GRAMMAR AND CONVENTIONAL WORDS FROM ARISTOTLE TO PINKER
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abstract actual analogy appears arbitrary archiphoneme argument Aristotle Astyanax called century Chomsky Chomsky's common con concept concerned convention core grammar correctness of words correlation CRAT Cratylus debate Democritus derivation dialects dialogue dis discussion distinction elements English enquiry Epicurus essence etymology example exist fact function Greek guage HERM Hermogenes historical human I-language idea Ideal Form ideal words imitation individual inflectional Jakobson knowledge lan language language-maker langue lawgiver lexical lexicon lin linguistic correctness logic Lucretius mark markedness meaning mind morphology nature neogrammarian Newspeak Nineteen Eighty-Four nomoi nomos notion nouns opposite original Orwell passage periphery philosophical phonemes phonology physis Plato poets political principle pro Protagoras question reality rhetoric Sanskrit Saussure Saussure's Saussurean sense signify signs Skamandros Socrates someone sounds speaking speech standard structure suggests syntax teaching theory things tion Trubetzkoy truth universal Universal Grammar unmarked Varro verbs vernacular