Saturday, December 29, 2007

Favorite Jackendoff quote

While doing some reading for my Semantics and Brain course, I've found my favorite quote from Jackendoff, maybe my favorite from all of linguistics. Jackendoff (2003, BBS, 26, 651-707) was making the point that the structure of language is still far from understood despite decades of research by a whole community of linguists. He continues,

"Yet every child does it by the age of ten or so. Children don't have to make the choices we do... They already f-know it in advance." p. 653

Although linguists may be justified in being f-annoyed that little tykes know more about language than they do, Jackendoff's use of the term f-know is not an abbreviated expletive. The f actually stands for functional, and the point is that kids seems to have some functional knowledge of language structure (they f-know it) when they approach the task of language acquisition. This, of course, is not a new claim. I just like the way Jackendoff f-puts it. :-)

If you haven't read Ray's book, Foundations of Language, or at least the precis in BBS, it is worth a serious look. Lot's of ideas that make contact between linguistics, psycholinguistics, and neuroscience.

Jackendoff R.
Précis of Foundations of language: brain, meaning, grammar, evolution.
Behav Brain Sci. 2003 Dec;26(6):651-65; discussion 666-707.

1 comment:

Kenny Vaden said...

That's funny, I was considering taking Jackendoff's book to Switzerland instead of "A Scanner Darkly." Maybe I will...