Fourteen Arguments for Purposeful Syntax Ongoing Perspectives
Larry Smith
February 2024

With a view to recognizing transparently evident purposes in the structuring of sentence parts, arguments are presented for broadly extending the architecture of syntax to incorporate functional perspective. Evidence supports allowing a set of syntactic processes access to a register of purposeful linguistic intents as input conditions. This provides the context of function and purpose for the speaker decision and action to use a particular syntactic element or construction. A range of theoretical concerns provides justification for the proposal: Empirical Coverage, Psychological Reality, Overgeneration, Simplicity, Modularization of Cognitive Models, Scientific Definitions, Creativity, Interdisciplinary Connection, Semantic Interpretation, Levels of Analysis, Directness of Explanation, Lack of Alternatives, and Stylistic Mechanisms. Enhanced constraints are provided to explain the learnability of natural languages from sparse and unrepresentative data. A window is opened into the many creative dimensions of human language. Highlights: • Addresses unresolved phenomena: intractable residues, well-known analyses lacking functional explanation/basis, and syntactic methods for poetic effect. • Demonstrates that conditions of linguistic purposeful intent satisfy criteria for valid analysis in theoretical syntax. • Simplifies syntax by precluding syntactic over-generation that requires filtering in cases where ill-formed sentences reflect prior incompatible intents which would fail to be instigated in the first place. • Completes the scientific definition of syntactic processes by inclusion of purpose. • Provides insight to the classic question how complex human languages are learnable from a poverty of stimulus. • Extends the architecture of linguistic competence by providing inputs of purposeful intent to the syntactic component, with consequent opportunities to interface with cognitive models in the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, sociology, stylistics, etc. This re-opens some narrower, more hermetic conceptions of grammar to the broad manifestations of human language. • Envisages modular integration with future models of artificial intelligence, and shows a reverse engineering potential to induce features of psychological linguistic intent from linguistic structures. • Beyond a representational symbolic formation, sentence generation is the product of purposeful psychological actions. • Syntactic abstract symbolic computation, in the domain of hierarchical structure, is complemented by inputs of purpose. • Linguistic intent and syntactic structure are sequentially separate and unentangled but connected cognitive modules. • Linguistic intention formation emits a register of specifications of purpose providing instigations which feed and condition syntactic formation throughout a derivation. • The PSH concerns the intentional sources of specific syntactic components, as opposed to why a speaker may originally choose to construct the whole of a sentence in the first place. It addresses the grammatical construction of the sentence and the instigation of its structural parts, but not the larger creative conception leading to a decision that a sentence on certain topics, with certain commentary, is to be produced. Its domain is not general ideation but only the purposes and mechanics of presentation. • Structural intent, as particularized sentence instigation, not operating in free productivity, brings a potential to forestall syntactic over-generation requiring ill-formedness filtration in late semantic interpretation. • Feeding intention to condition syntactic structure lessens and simplifies the burdens of computational formation by precluding superfluous structure of no utility. • Linguistic intention straddles the competence/performance divide, triggering generative performative structural actions effected by syntactic processes.
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Reference: lingbuzz/007890
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Published in: Massachusetts
keywords: syntax purposeful intention functional, syntax
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