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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

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Two points:

1) "agent, patient, theme, location, goal" are not "high-level syntactic terms", they are semantic roles that interface with syntactic items (nouns, verbs, adjectives).

2) Universals don't necessarily have to be things "in all languages" but could potentially be things that language has the potential for. Jackendoff, for example, does believe in a degree of nativism, but considers UG a "cognitive toolbox" — whatever the brain innately brings to the table for learning language. The results of what manifests might be vastly different based on input, but the brain has to be doing something to acquire it (whether "general" or "specific"). This is very different from a Chomskyan approach.

I'm biased as Jackendoff's student, but as I've recommended several times: it is worth reading his material to discern the very large and distinct differences between his and Chomsky's beliefs. "Generative grammar" (and its proponents) is not as homogenous as it's often made out to be.


People tend to misinterpret "grammar" here, too. All languages have lexical items and all languages are decomposable. That seems trivial at first, but has very far reaching implications.

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