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on 8/10/07 2:19 PM, [log in to unmask] at
[log in to unmask] wrote:

> In a message dated 8/10/2007 5:50:21 AM Central Daylight Time,
> [log in to unmask] writes:
> 
> 
>> You know, if you just completely eliminate syntax--just pretend
>> it doesn't exist--language (both nat and con) starts to make a lot
>> more sense.  For example, imagine you have a toaster.  You plug
>> the toaster in, put bread in the slots, press down, wait a bit, and
>> you have toast.  Then let's say someone comes along and says,
>> "No, you have to sacrifice a goat after you plug in the toaster,
>> but before you put in the bread.  Otherwise nothing happens."
>> That goat sacrifice is syntax, and that someone is a syntactician.
>> 
> 
> No, the order of events is the syntax.
> "You plug the toaster in, put bread in the slots, press down, wait a bit, and
> you have toast."
> 
> If any of these first four elements is out of order (or there is no
> electricity, a hidden assumption) you won't get toast.
> 
> Pressing down before putting the bread in the slots can be regarded as
> questionable grammatically.  It gets the toast done, but maybe not as well if
> you 
> wait too long.
> 
> stevo

Methinks you're both right. Syntacticians do describe the order, which is
essential, but they also posit many invisible steps and complications that
speakers never would have dreamed of. It is helpful in explaining certain
things, but exactly how helpful it is is debatable. Too many goat sacrifices
before breakfast can ruin one's appetite.

Josh