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Ignorance of Language$
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Michael Devitt

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199250967

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199250960.001.0001

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A Grammar as a Theory of Linguistic Reality

A Grammar as a Theory of Linguistic Reality

(p.17) 2 A Grammar as a Theory of Linguistic Reality
Ignorance of Language

Michael Devitt (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues against Chomsky’s view that linguistics is a branch of psychology, and hence concerns a psychological reality: the speaker’s linguistic competence. With the help of three quite general distinctions, including that between structure rules and processing rules, and between being a structure rule and “respecting” one, it is argued that there is something other than psychological reality for a grammar to be true of: it can be true of a linguistic reality. Given the weight of evidence, it is plausible that the grammar is indeed more or less true of that reality. The grammar might also be true of a psychological reality, but to show that it is so requires further psychological assumption. It will prove hard to establish a psychological assumption that will do the trick.

Keywords:   Chomsky, linguistics, psychology, linguistic competence, structure rules, processing rules, respecting rules, linguistic reality, psychological reality, grammar

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