'Sounds of Silence' - Book Review

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Indian Statistical Institute

December 6, 2013

2013. Review of the book: SOUNDS OF SILENCE, Jutta M. Hartmann, Veronika Hegedus, Henk Van Reimsdijk, eds., Elsevier Science, 2007.
Indian Linguistics. Vol. 74, Nos. 1-2. (pp. 121-26) ISSN 0378-0759

Despite the fact that Chomsky (1994) himself made Empty Category Principle as a redundant tool, the editors and authors of this book dared to venture into the domain of such silenceme. However, it is matter of regret, they had cut a sorry figure due to the epistemological amalgamation of at least five models of Chomskian syntax that had led to the problem of incommensurability.

This is a crucial as well as puzzling question as it is still doubtful whether this type of tool would serve the semantactic purpose and could attain explanatory adequacy by clearing up one unresolved question: does empty category erase both category and content or not or there might be a possibility of disjunctive situation? Bendjaballah and Haiden’s answer was “a tentative yes” (pg.23) as the “theoretical framework has changed considerably”, but in case of post-syntactic component, their answer was negative and this was a paradoxical situation that entailed aporia. Many radical changes had occurred after the question of Reimsdijk et al (note the date: it was 1986) was put into the arena of formal-practitioners of Chomskian syntax.

This review, taking cue from such problematic zones, where, within formalism, decidability of emptiness had elicited ambivalent responses, would try to understand the enterprise that is still subscribing a phenomenon that was already abandoned or being considered as mere “descriptive taxonomy” by the initiator and some of his followers of this particular principle.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 9

Keywords: Silenceme, ECP, deletion, Trace, incommensurability, Model-theoretic Approach

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Date posted: March 6, 2012 ; Last revised: March 4, 2014

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Bandyopadhyay, Debaprasad, 'Sounds of Silence' - Book Review (December 6, 2013). 2013. Review of the book: SOUNDS OF SILENCE, Jutta M. Hartmann, Veronika Hegedus, Henk Van Reimsdijk, eds., Elsevier Science, 2007.. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2016959

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Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay (Contact Author)
Indian Statistical Institute ( email )
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Kolkata, West Bengal 700108
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