Joseph Emonds: How Do We Construct Convergent Numerations?
by Joseph Emonds
Current versions of Chomskyan syntax take for granted that syntactic
derivations depend on prior specification of complete ``numerations'' of
lexical items, which then combine according to the principles of syntax.
However, competence models have provided no ways to choose such numerations;
they are either chosen randomly or based on the intuition of (ultimately
native) speakers. In neither case is there any scientific characterization
of these objects, and so syntactic derivations lose their status as a
This essay claims that numerations in a plausible
formal model of language can be conceived as random (or, formally
equivalently, pragmatically determined) only if syntactic derivations can
supplement them in a highly constrained way: by adding to them items from a
special lexical subcomponent of purely grammatical or ``closed class''
items. Items from this subcomponent, dubbed the Syntacticon in some recent
work, seem to have precisely the grammatical properties (insertion into
already processed structures, possibly null phonology) needed to make the
otherwise randomly selected numerations ``converge'' to well formed Logical
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