Year of publication
- 2003 (8) (remove)
- Early dialectal diversity in South Slavic I (2003)
- The large majority of the isoglosses which can be established in the South Slavic dialectal area date from the time of the disintegration of Common Slavic and from more recent periods (e.g., Ivi´c 1958: 25ff). The isoglosses have often shifted in the course of the centuries, so that their original position cannot always be determined. In this study I shall concentrate upon the dialectal differences which originated before the 10th century. At that time, Slavic was still a largely uniform language, though it was certainly not completely homogeneous.
- A parasitological view of non-constructible sets (2003)
- The genetic code, the primary manifestation of life, and, on the other hand, language, the universal endowment of humanity and its momentous leap from genetics to civilization, are the two fundamental stores of information transmissible from the ancestry to the progeny, the molecular succession, which ensures the transfer of hereditary messages from the cells of one generation to the next generation, and the verbal legacy as a necessary prerequisite of cultural tradition. Divergent terminologies direct attention to different pattemings; and finding a logically convincing test, acceptable all around, that can determine whether one such system of terms is superior to its rivals, is often impossible. Yet the slow processes of evolution presumably apply to human societies and their symbolic systems as much as to human bodies, so that when logic cannot decide, survival eventually will.
- On the meaning of the Japanese passive (2003)
- In her discussion of the Japanese adversative passive, Anna Wierzbicka writes (1988: 260): “The problem is extremely interesting and important both for intrinsic reasons and because of its wider methodological implications. It can be formulated like this: if one form can be used in a number of different ways, are we entitled to postulate for it a number of different meanings or should we rather search for one semantic common denominator (regarded as the MEANING of the form in question) and attribute the variety of uses to the interaction between this meaning and the linguistic or extralinguistic context?” Though it “may seem obvious” that the second stand is “methodologically preferable” (261), she takes the first position and concludes that “the Japanese passive has to be recognized as multiply ambiguous” (286). In the following I intend to show that this view is both wrong and fruitful.
- The origin of the Japanese and Korean accent systems (2003)
- S.R. Ramsey writes (1979: 162): "The patterning of tone marks in Old Kyoto texts divides the vocabulary into virtually the same classes as those arrived at by comparing the accent distinctions found in the modern dialects. This means that the Old Kyoto dialect had a pitch system similar to that of proto-Japanese. The standard language of the Heian period may not actually be the ancestor of all the dialects of Japan, but at least as far as the accent system is concerned, it is close enough to the proto system to be used as a working model. The significance of this fact is important: It means that each of the dialects included in the comparison has as much to tell, at least potentially, as any other dialect about Old Kyoto accent."
- The origin and nature of the linguistic parasite (2003)
- 1. The functionalist’s view: linguistic forms are instruments used to convey meaningful elements. This is the basis of European structuralism. 2. The formalist’s view: linguistic forms are abstract structures which can be filled with meaningful elements. This is the basis of generative grammar. 3. The parasitologist’s view: linguistic forms are vehicles for the reproduction of meaningful elements. This is the view which I advocated twenty years ago in the Festschrift for Werner Winter’s 60th birthday (1985). Here I intend to discuss the evolutionary origin and the physiological nature of the linguistic parasite. My theory of language is wholly consistent with Gerald Edelman’s theory of neuronal group selection.
- Early dialectal diversity in South Slavic II (2003)
- Twenty years ago I discussed the oldest isoglosses in the South Slavic linguistic area (1982). Subscribing to Van Wijk’s view that the bundle of isoglosses which separates Bulgarian from Serbo-Croatian was the result of an early split in South Slavic and that the transitional dialects originated from a later mixture of Serbian and Bulgarian dialects when the contact between the two languages had been restored (1927), I argued that the shared innovations of Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian must be dated to a period when the dialects were still spoken in the original Trans-Carpathian homeland of the Slavs. I concluded that there is no evidence for common innovations of South Slavic which were posterior to the end of what I have called the Late Middle Slavic period, which I dated to the 4th through 6th centuries AD. At that time, the major dialect divisions of Slavic were already established.
- Bad theory, wrong conclusions: M. Halle on Slavic accentuation (2003)
- Twenty years ago (1983), I severely criticized Halle and Kiparsky’s review (1981) of Garde’s history of Slavic accentuation (1976). I concluded that Halle and Ki-parsky’s theoretical framework “rests upon an unwarranted limitation of the available evidence, obscures the chronological perspective, and yields results which are partly not new and partly incorrect. It is harmful because it does not give the facts their proper due and thereby blocks the road to empirical study, giving a free hand to unrestrained speculation” (1983: 40). As Halle has recently returned to the subject (2001), it may be interesting to see if there has been some progress in his thinking over the last two decades. In the following I shall try to avoid repeating what I have said in my earlier discussion.