Thursday, October 15, 2009

Yosef Grodzinsky wins!

Well, he won the debate, but not because he is right. Yosef is probably wrong about what Broca's area is doing. The reason he won is because his approach to the problem and his specific proposals are likely to generate much more research than Peter's ideas which, as one audience member noted, are very close to impossible to test or refute.

Here's a quote from David P. who is sitting next to me: "One banality after another... ugh. I learned NOTHING!"


Bill Idsardi said...

How did David pronounce "banality"? With [e] or [ə] in the first syllable?

Bill Idsardi said...

"... likely to generate more research ..." coincidentally today:

Laura Barde said...

Are you tweeting this blog post? Because if so, that would be the height of nerdliness.

Marc Ettlinger said...

If I may respond to the "nothing" aside: I find that you generally don't see new findings at these sorts of talks, but rather an attempt at synthesis of old results. For the less-experienced among us, I think it often times helps clarify the questions, and I think this session did.
It raised the question of how one could articulate a theory of binding that is specific enough and fits the existing empirical data. The answer, actually, may even already be out there in the work of Saag, Goldberg, in the journal Constructions &c. That might cause some eye-glaze but those are some of the language-oriented details that I think as a group we agreed was crucial (with some exception). I wish Dr Hagoort had taken up the binding-with-elision possibility a bit more.
Second, I think the point Dr. Binder brought up presents questions to both sides. The movement theory is incomplete insofar as is doesn't not have a clearly defined mechanism or process; movement is a function. So, there is an element of "it's not even wrong" in that approach, particularly since movement is linguistic competence; presumably a brain processing language is performancing, not, generating the set of all grammatical sentences.
For the other side, it establishes the need to look at the diverse cognitive functions Broca's serves and try to find the common process, which is conceivably testable. Finding a dissociation in another domain (within language or not) analogous in process difference to that found in syntax would certainly be cool to me.

Marc Ettlinger said...

To follow up on myself:
I think do-so anaphora is considered elision and in Minimalism has no t-trace. Does that activate Broca's in the same way? To wildly speculate and try to draw an association with panel two, perhaps activation in bound & elided & in a scanner contexts has to do with sub-vocalic rehearsal, which should activate Broca's.
I'm obviously no syntactician by any stretch, but hopefully that adds more meat to what I mean.