25 Feb 2009

Vergauwen, A Metalogical Theory of Reference, Introduction, §4

by Corry Shores
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Roger Vergauwen

A Metalogical Theory of Reference: Realism and Essentialism in Semantics

Introduction: the Temperature of a Hot Topic

§4 Structuralism and Chomsky

In the 20th century, logic and linguistic studies boomed.

Ferdinand de Saussure and Bloomfieldianism presented structuralism, which is "a form of an inductivist approach to syntax." Structuralism led to Chomskyan transformational-generative grammar in the late fifties. Chomsky gives place to a semantic-interpretive component in grammar. He thought that linguistic theories must explain semantic phenomena by interpreting sentences' deep grammatical structure.

Chomsky's project proved to be too difficult. According to their theory, there are deep structures in sentences. These then determine surface structures by means of transformations of the deep structures.

One solution was to equate deep structures with their logical form. This way they hoped to explain logical relations on the surface level by determining those on the deep level. Their enterprise was called generative semantics. But its logic was inadequate. Thus it too failed to make much progress. So few advances have been made recently in Chomskyan grammar.

(page xi-xii)

Vergauwen, Roger. A Metalogical Theory of Reference: Realism and Essentialism in Semantics. London: University Press of America, 1993.

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