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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

« Is Anything Universal in Language? | Main | The Signs of Sarcasm »



This doesn't require too much explanation, since it isn't even close to syntax — it's still just parataxis of semantic components. You'd expect this to be a rudimentary stage long prior to the development of actual syntactic structures.
BLOGGER: Maybe so, but I've read many a referece to the supposed fact that suffixes, prefixes, and other combinatorial modifications of calls never happen.


Nevertheless, combinatorial properties aren't the same as syntax (and neither is semantics). Every domain of language (phonology, syntax, semantics, narrative, etc.) has combinatorial principles, not just syntax.

And, what these monkeys are doing is not combinatorial! It's just parataxis — the smooshing of elements together — which is exactly the sort of preliminary stage that you'd expect in language evolution far prior to actual combinatorial elements (as laid out in Jackendoff's proposed evolutionary progression).
BLOGGER: I seem to recall hearing about some languages (in the Amazonian basin?) that have markers indicating that the speaker is relying on reported information rather than first-hand knowledge. Are you saying those markers are not syntactical?


Actually, markers like that are found in Turkish. No, those are not syntactic, they are morphemic. (or morpho-syntactic, if they involve agreement)

Meaning is not syntax.

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