Tuesday, 29 June 2004

From "Syntactic Structure"

By Noam Chomsky.

Second, the notion "grammatical" cannot be identified with "meaningful" or "significant" in any semantic sense. Sentences (1) and (2) are equally nonsensical, but any speaker of English will recognize that only the former is grammatical.

(1) Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
(2) Furiously sleep ideas green colorless.

Similarly, there is no semantic reason to prefer (3) to (5) or (4) to (6), but only (3) and (4) are grammatical sentences of English.

(3) have you a book on modern music?
(4) the book seems interesting.
(5) read you a book on modern music?
(6) the child seems sleeping.

Such examples suggest that any search for a semantically based definition of "grammaticalness" will be futile.

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