By illuminating Jonathan Swift’s fascination with language, Marilyn Francus shows how the linguistic questions posed by his work are at the forefront of twentieth-century literary criticism: What constitutes meaning in language? How do people respond to language? Who has (or should have) authority over language? Is linguistic value synonymous with literary value?
Francus starts with a detailed analysis of Swift’s linguistic education, which straddled a radical transition in linguistic thought, and its effect on his prose. This compelling beginning includes sometimes surprising historical information about the teaching and learning of linguistics and language theory in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Swift’s academic studies reflected the traditional universalist view that seeks an Adamic language to reverse the fragmentation of Babel and achieve epistemological unity. But Swift’s tutor also exposed him to the contemporary linguistics of the scientific societies and of John Locke, who argued that the assignment of linguistic meaning is arbitrary and subjective, capturing an individual’s understanding at a particular instant. These competing theories, Francus maintains, help explain the Irish writer’s conflicting inclinations toward both linguistic order and freewheeling creativity.
To develop a complete vision of Swiftian linguistics, Francus focuses on A Tale of a Tub as the archetypal linguistic text in the Swift canon, but she also includes evidence from his other famous works, including Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, Journal to Stella, and The Bickerstaff Papers, as well as from his lesser known religious and political tracts and his correspondence. In addition, Francus draws on the relevant work of contemporary linguists (such as Wilkins, Watts, Dyche, and Stackhouse), philosophers (Hobbes and Locke), and authors (including Temple, Sprat, Dryden, Pope, Addison, and Defoe).
Francus concludes that Swift occupies a pivotal place in literary history: his conscious emphasis on textuality and extended linguistic play anticipates not only the future of satiric prose but the modern novel as well.
Descriptive grammarians and typologists often encounter unusual constructions or unfamiliar variants of otherwise familiar construction types. Many of these phenomena are puzzling from the perspective of linguistic theories: they neither predict these “anomalies” nor, arguably, provide the tools to describe them insightfully. This book analyzes an unusual type of relative clause found in many related and unrelated languages of Eurasia. While providing a detailed case study of Tundra Nenets, it broadens this inquiry into a detailed typological exploration of this relative clause type. The authors argue that an understanding of this construction requires exploring the (type of) grammar system in which it occurs in order to identify the (set of) independent constructions that motivate its existence. The resulting insights into grammar organization illustrate the usefulness of a construction-theoretic syntax and morphology informed by a developmental systems perspective for the understanding of complex grammatical phenomena.
This volume presents essays by some of the leading figures in the vanguard of theoretical linguistics within the framework of universal grammmar. One of the first books to adopt the "minimalist" framework to syntactic analysis, it includes a central essay by Noam Chomsky on the minimalist program and covers a range of topics in syntax and morphology.
Contributors: Luigi Burzio, Héctor Campos, Noam Chomsky, Joseph E. Emonds, Robert Freidin, James Harris, Ray Jackendoff, Paula Kempchinsky, Howard Lasnik, Claudia Parodi, Carlos Piera, A. Carlos Quicoli, Dominique Sportiche, Esther Torrego.
Elegant analyses by linguists have been a point of pride since the time of the Neogrammarians. But ever since Chomsky's pioneering work on the goals of linguistic theory, this descriptive emphasis has shifted to focus on explanation. What, the contributors to this volume ask, renders a linguistic account explanatorily adequate? What are the empirical and theoretical trade-offs that come into play when linguists aim for explanation? Renowned scholars weigh in here, offering insightful answers to these questions.