A Grammar as a Theory of Linguistic Reality

Michael Devitt

in Ignorance of Language

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199250967
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603945 | DOI:
A Grammar as a Theory of Linguistic Reality

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This chapter argues against Chomsky’s view that linguistics is a branch of psychology, and hence concerns a psychological reality: the speaker’s linguistic competence. With the help of three quite general distinctions, including that between structure rules and processing rules, and between being a structure rule and “respecting” one, it is argued that there is something other than psychological reality for a grammar to be true of: it can be true of a linguistic reality. Given the weight of evidence, it is plausible that the grammar is indeed more or less true of that reality. The grammar might also be true of a psychological reality, but to show that it is so requires further psychological assumption. It will prove hard to establish a psychological assumption that will do the trick.

Keywords: Chomsky; linguistics; psychology; linguistic competence; structure rules; processing rules; respecting rules; linguistic reality; psychological reality; grammar

Chapter.  13024 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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