Christophe Grandsire wrote:

> Boudewijn Rempt wrote:
> > >
> > > Oh, I never meant to imply that they're completely unrelated --
> > > indeed, there are highly related, but distinct notions.  I was merely
> > > carrying on the generally accepted notion of the "autonomy of syntax":
> > > a sentence like "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" makes no
> > > semantic sense whatsoever, but it makes perfect syntactic sense,
> > > and is a well-formed English sentence.
>         It can make semantic sense for imaginative people who like metaphors.
> The idea of "colorless green ideas" is not so nonsense for me (at least
> it strikes a chord in my spirit) and I can surely "sleep furiously" :) .
> So you see, saying that something doesn't make any semantic sense is
> difficult, don't forget the metaphors and the use of context.

Sure, but for that to work you have to put it into a specific context,
which is not given here.  *Any* statement could, theoretically,
have some semantic meaning given a certain context that triggers it.

The point Chomsky was trying to make is that syntactic relations are
not *identical* with semantic relations -- in other words, there are rules
for the structuring of sentences that go above and beyond what you could
derive a posteriori from the world around you.

> > Well, I'd say that the notion of "autonomy of syntax" is getting
> > more and more challenged. (Also, linguistics is more fun with the
> > meaning included, even if scientists from other disciplines will
> > look down upon linguistics even more for being soft and squishy.)
>         For me, it is obvious that syntax and semantics aren't autonomous, and
> I wonder why it is a debated question.

Wait a minute here.  I think we're confusing two very distinct concepts:
"autonomy", in which syntax and semantics are interrelated but not
identical, and "independence", in which the two are wholly and completely
separate. In a political analogy Kosovo is (supposed to be) autonomous
of Serbia, but Bosnia is independent of Serbia.  When we talk about
syntactic autonomy, we are still taking semantics into consideration,
conceiving of it as a relevant concept.

Once that is understood, Chomsky is obviously *correct*, not incorrect
(at least in that respect).

Tom Wier <[log in to unmask]>
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