Grammatical Theory, Its Limits and Its Possibilities, F. J. Newmeyer, The University of Chicago Press, 1983


Image of Newmeyer taken without permission from:

This is a title that is more for MA students looking at grammar and/or language acquisition, so it is not a priority book for the Delta.

Summary notes

In this book, Newmeyer provides an argument centered on Chomsky’s theory of transformational generative grammar, saying “… if the scope of grammatical theory is limited in a definite way, can its possibilities be realized.”

Correction seems to play a small role in shaping a child’s speech. Ungrammatical sentences are not normally corrected, and correction seems to have little effect on output. This fact suggests that an internal language acquisition device plays at least as important a role in development as external factors.

In English casual speech there is a syncope rule that applies before liquids and nasals in words like cam(e)ra and butt(o)ning. Yet the rule is constrained NOT to apply before obstuents, even though it seems that its output in such cases (typ(i)cal) is equally as “natural” as its output before liquids and nasals. Thus, there is evidence that an abstract rule is learned.



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