Author Topic: Dynamic Syntax  (Read 86 times)

Offline Matt Longhorn

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Dynamic Syntax
« on: September 15, 2020, 10:48:54 AM »
ok, I am likely to regret asking this.... I am reading a book on Relevance Theory called Relevance Pragmatics and Interpretation. The current chapter that I am reading is on dynamic syntax https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/relevance-pragmatics-and-interpretation/procedural-syntax/A589D52477AF7E7A43762B5919A653E4

I was wondering whether people know whether this has been accepted into the RT framework much at all? I am likely to want to follow up on this chapter by reading more widely on it, but in order to optimise the relevance of my reading I want to reduce processing effort involved in reading things that won't give me adequate positive cognitive effects, and strengthen my existing knowledge of RT.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Dynamic Syntax
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2020, 01:30:51 PM »
From the abstract:
Quote
This approach to language (which they call ‘Dynamic Syntax’) is fundamentally different from orthodox generative grammar and conceptualises syntax as procedures for interaction.
I'm not a specialist in RT, so I can't comment further from that perspective, but if you're asking whether this is a mainstream idea for approaching syntax, no. That doesn't mean it's not a valuable idea, but it's just not widely used, primarily because it seems like it's from the perspective of Pragmatics, rather than something that syntacticians work with.

You would need to (and maybe should) ask an RT specialist for a more specific perspective on this.

Regardless, I wouldn't discourage you from looking at less mainstream ideas if they seem relevant and useful for you. If you want to focus on the main ideas so you can follow the literature in general, this probably isn't it, but if you're interested in exploring ideas yourself, there's nothing wrong with less popular ideas, especially if you work out how to connect them to the more popular ideas: for example, why is this approach different/needed/better than others? why propose it at all? If you can understand that, then you're doing well. Sometimes it's less about the "right" theory and more about asking useful questions.

(From the perspective of Syntax, this sounds vaguely more like Construction Grammar than Generative Grammar, so a starting point would be figuring out how exactly this approach differs from Construction Grammar, and whether it's reinventing that wheel, or (in)compatible with it, etc. There's also this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systemic_functional_linguistics)
« Last Edit: September 15, 2020, 01:33:41 PM by Daniel »
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Offline Matt Longhorn

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Re: Dynamic Syntax
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 01:12:35 AM »
Thanks Daniel, that makes sense.
My primary interest is in pragmatics, so this as an interface between pragmatics and semantics is something that interests me. Useful to know it hasn't been widely adopted

I did some reading on construction grammar in the past, and also liked that. I agree that this fits in with it. I don't think that it is reinventing the wheel, although I would need to brush up again on sign based construction grammar

Offline Daniel

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Re: Dynamic Syntax
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 08:59:29 AM »
Quote
My primary interest is in pragmatics, so this as an interface between pragmatics and semantics is something that interests me. ... I don't think that it is reinventing the wheel...
The (potential) problem is one of perspective. There's no need for a unique "pragmatic" approach to syntax. There may indeed be a need for syntactic theories to take pragmatics into account. But driven from the perspective of pragmatics, this likely either won't catch on and might just reinvent that wheel in a limited niche. Linguists theorize a lot, but often don't reach a consensus especially based on ideas from outside of a specialization. And often ideas like this bring up legitimate problems but stop short of actually solving them (especially in terms of communicating the problems to specialists in the subfield). The real trick is to actually integrate different approaches effectively: have syntacticians and pragmaticists benefit from collaborative research. It happens. But it should happen more (across all domains: all of the above can be said about syntactic ideas about pragmatics too, and other fields).

This is just some thoughts about how to navigate the literature, not an evaluation of the ideas themselves. The result is, as I said, that non-mainstream ideas are sometimes important. But it does make navigating the literature difficult!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2020, 09:01:27 AM by Daniel »
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Offline Matt Longhorn

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Re: Dynamic Syntax
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 11:16:27 AM »
Useful thoughts, thanks.

This is just some thoughts about how to navigate the literature, not an evaluation of the ideas themselves. The result is, as I said, that non-mainstream ideas are sometimes important. But it does make navigating the literature difficult!

Navigating the literature for me is a hard one. I tend to buy books, which can be very expensive for me (Brill especially). Having some sort of guide to where to spend time can be handy - for me I am likely to treat this as a way to break into an interest in semantics. The link to RT means I will pay a bit more attention than otherwise, and who knows - may open up a new branch of reading I never thought I would be doing

I contacted someone prominent in the RT world who kindly responded about the compatibility with RT. She thinks it is a path worth pursuing, although noted that there hasn't been a huge amount of effort on properly integrating them

Offline Matt Longhorn

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Re: Dynamic Syntax
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 11:43:39 AM »
I found this site, that seems a touch like the Relevance Theory Online Bibliography that Dr Yus maintains but for Dynamic Syntax


http://www.dynamicsyntax.org/publications

They give a link to one of the books that is free on ResearchGate
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298544659_Dynamics_of_Language_An_Introduction