Description: Advanced Issues in Cognitive Science and Linguistics
I: Issues in Biolinguistics
lecture/seminar series is meant to provide an introduction to current
(fundamental) issues in "biolinguistics", giving you a
sense of what biolinguistics is, how it came about, and what it
intends to achieve. Although clearly related to, and often conflated
with generative linguistics, biolinguistics requires -- or so I will
argue -- a significant rethinking of the practice of theoretical
linguistics, but also its conceptual foundation; a necessary step, I
believe, to move from a cognitive science to a cognitive bioscience.
will take for granted some of the major concepts of modern
linguistics, those discussed in the first two parts of my 2010
Language in Cognition book (Wiley). I will also assume basic
familiarity with concepts like "FLN", "FLB",
"three factors of language design", "I-language",
etc. If you are not familiar at all with these, please read up before
the lectures. If you are very motivated, you may want to read
classics like Lenneberg's (1967) Biological Foundations of Language,
Piattelli-Palmarini's (1980) Language and Learning, and Chomsky's
(1980) Rules and Representations before class.
to be discussed include:
characterization of the "language-ready brain"
regulation of the language capacity
and surface) variation within the language faculty
thought, and externalization
critiques of the enterprise
class participation and a 5-page essay on a topic to be discussed at
the beginning of the first meeting.
II: Form and meaning in grammar
Starting from Chapter 4, paragraph 1 of Chomsky's Aspects (1965), we
will revisit and redraw the boundaries of syntax and semantics. This
will be in line with recent work on an 'Un-'-Cartesian linguistics,
which challenges traditional Cartesian conceptions of the interface
between language and thought. On the view I will develop over these
five lectures/seminars, the central principles of sapiens-specific
thought fall out from the organisation of grammar, and we
heuristically assume that everything in grammar is
interpretable, crucially including Case and phi-features.
1.What is (Un-) Cartesian Linguistics?
2.The grammar of nominal and clausal reference
3.The interpretability of Person
4.The interpretability of Case
5.Language and reality
Chomsky (1965), Aspects, ch.4, par.1.
Chomsky (1966), Cartesian Linguistics, chs. 1-2 (background)
Hinzen (2012), Language and thought, in Boeckx (ed.), Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism, OUP.
Examination: A number of sample questions will be posted on which short essays can then be written.
The meeting place for Monday-Thursday is the Aula Gabriel Oliver, floor -1, Josep Carner building. For Friday, the meeting place is the Sala de Professors, 5th floor, Josep Carner building. More information about the time of the course is available here