On the Galilean style of linguistic inquiry

Rudolf P. Botha


The Specified Subject Condition (henceforth SSC) and the Tensed SCondit~ on (henceforth TSC) were proposed in the early seventies by Chomsky as principles of universal grammar, restricting the application of both syntactic movement transformations and rules of semantic interpretation. An early informal reference to these conditions can be found in (Chomsky 1971:34-40). The first detailed technical discussion of the SSC and TSC appeared in "Conditions on transformations" (henceforth (Chomsky 1973)). Since the publication of the latter work, these two conditions have played a fundamental role in the theory of universal grammar (henceforth UG) within the Chomskyan approach to the study of language. The developmental history of these two conditions in fact provides us with helpful insight into important aspects of both the substantive and the methodological developments which Chomsky's general linguistic theory has undergone within The time has come for psychologists and linguists to adopt "the Galilean style" of inquiry in the study both of mind in general and of language in particular. Such is the position more than once argued for by Chomsky in recent writings. On the face of it, "the Galilean style" ~s a new mode of ~nqu~ry ~n theoretical linguistcs; the overall aim of this essay ~s to see how this apparent novelty holds up under methodological analysis. Before turning to a number of specific questions about "the Galilean style", however, it will be in order to take a brief look at the main components of Chomsky's argument for the adoption of this mode of inquiry the past decade.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5774/7-0-115


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