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Danysh wrote:It seems to me that what we now know about developmental psychology, cognitive science, and evolution points to the reality that a language is a group of form-function mappings that have been conventionalized in a group of speakers, with various levels of abstraction, from single morphemes to more complex argument structures.
We also know that the brain is capable of statistical learning and that the way children learn language is gradual and in large part parallel to what they are exposed to.
md0 wrote:To me, there's no questioning the generative aspect of Language at all by the way. The syntax of all human languages clearly exhibits hierarchical structure (eg see binding principles, negation scope) and application of rules. If we learned syntax by statistical means, and naive associations, language wouldn't have so rigid rules. And human brains are not that good at remembering arbitrary pairs of information to begin with.
I don't see why the choice must be either between hard-and-fast rules or statistics and naive associations, though, and it seems to me that there are plenty of rules in all kinds of languages that are not that rigid.
Also, if we really process syntax in our brains in the form of rigid rules, why are we able to flout those rules so easily?
Why is it not possible that we learn language(s) via an abstract form of pattern association, for example?
How do we use rigid rules to explain, for example, what appears to be highly flexible word order in some languages?
md0 wrote:Now, actual variation for me would be like occurrences of pronoun dropping in English. It seems to me like this quite fundamental feature of English is changing extremely slowly, perhaps because of the many ESL speakers with pro-drop first languages.
OSV is not documented at all.
It looks like that order is impossible. Even Greek, notorious for its word-order anarchy among the Indoeuropean branch, doesn't allow it.
Between them, SOV and SVO are the unmarked orders for more than 90% of the documented languages.
Even with just those two pieces of information, you are motivated to think that word order must be ruled government; it is flexible but not that flexible.
Yes, it is - widely documented, in fact.
there are even a few languages where it is the default word order
Ruled by government?
I believe I've seen the predominance of SOV and SVO be explained as being possibly motivated by the (semantic?) salience of the subject, not necessarily by any kind of rules. I also know that word order is a notoriously unstable syntactic feature.
md0 wrote:What I read is that in the few languages where OSV is attested, it was analysed as derived order, not unmarked.
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