Natural Language Conjunction: Universal Grammar or Universal Logic?
Joseph Krecioch
May 2024

[Author's note: This paper is a summary and update of some work toward a Master's thesis in General Linguistics around 2010, at Northeastern Illinois University, which was never completed. I've tried publishing a version of this paper in a couple of logic journals, but it was considered too linguistic (which is obvious), but I don't wish to publish in a linguistics journal--my frustration with the field, and its Chomsky cult, should be evident in this paper.] Abstract: In this paper I argue that conjunction does not adhere to minimalist principles because NP conjunction is a set of potentially ‘equal’ elements that may, or may not, be interpreted as collective. As a concatenation of individual elements (interpreted either plurally or collectively singular), NP conjunction fulfills a logical role, not a semantic one, so neither projects relations nor receives agree features as words with ‘special content’ do. This leads to a grammatical problem which parallels the Truth Problem in philosophical logic. While norms and conventions are easily and predictably abstracted and interpreted from simple constructions, the interpretation of semantic features such as number and gender within a conjunction appears to add a level of uncertainty and complexity that results in varied coordination systems among the world’s languages. This ‘issue’ is solved if we accept that semantics—that is, meaning-- drives syntax and that the structures we use to communicate are the basic structures of logic utilized across the cognitive spectrum. Thus, I propose that a foundational logic, or protologic, allows natural human language syntax and rather than being generative, syntax is itself generated by logical relations among concepts.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006838
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: grammar, language, logic, conjunction, syntax, case, agreement, semantics, normativity
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