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Ray Jackendoff

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Ray Jackendoff (born 1945) is an influential contemporary linguist who has always straddled the boundary between generative linguistics and cognitive linguistics, committed as he is both to the existence of an innate Universal Grammar (an all-important thesis of generative linguistics) and to giving an account of language that meshes well with the current understanding of the human mind and cognition (the main purpose of cognitive linguistics). Jackendoff's research deals with the semantics of natural language, its bearing on the formal structure of cognition, and its lexical and syntactic expression. He has also done extensive research on the relationship between conscious awareness and the computational theory of mind, on syntactic theory, and, with Fred Lerdahl, on musical cognition. His theory of Conceptual Semantics developed into a comprehensive theory on the foundations of language, which is indeed the title of his most recent monograph (2002): Foundations of Language. Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution. Much earlier, in his 1983 Semantics and Cognition, he was one of the first linguists to integrate the vision faculty into his account of meaning and human language. He was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize in Paris in 2003. Tufts and Rutgers are the only universities in the United States to have two former Jean Nicod Prize Winners on their faculty (the other being Daniel Dennett at Tufts; Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn at Rutgers).

Jackendoff studied under famed linguist Noam Chomsky at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA), where he received his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1969. Jackendoff was Professor of Linguistics and Chair of the Linguistics Program at Brandeis University from 1971 to 2005. In the fall of 2005, Jackendoff moved to Tufts University (Medford, MA), where he is Professor of philosophy, Seth Merrin Chair in the Humanities, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies (along with Daniel Dennett).

Interfaces and generative grammarEdit

Jackendoff argues against a syntax-centered view of generative grammar (called syntactocentrism by him), at variance with earlier models such as Standard Theory 1968; Extended Standard Theory 1972; Revised Extended Standard Theory 1975; Government- Binding Theory 1981; Minimalist Program 1993, in which syntax is the sole generative component in the language. Jackendoff takes syntax, semantics and phonology all to be generative, connected amongst each other via interface components. Thus, the task of his theory is to formalize the proper interface rules.

While rejecting mainstream generative grammar due to its syntactocentrism, the Cognitive Semantics school has offered an insight that Jackendoff would sympathize with -namely, that meaning is a separate combinatorial system not entirely at the grace of syntax. Unlike many of the Cognitive Semantics approaches, he contends that neither syntax alone should determine semantics, nor vice-versa. Syntax need only interface with semantics to the degree necessary to produce properly ordered phonological output (see Jackendoff 1996, 2002, 2005).

Selected worksEdit

  • Jackendoff, Ray (1976). Semantics and Cognition, 283, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0262100274.
  • Jackendoff, Ray (1987). Consciousness and the Computational Mind, 356, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0262100371.
  • Jackendoff, Ray (1990). Semantic Structures, 322, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0262100436.
  • Jackendoff, Ray (1992). Languages of the Mind, 200, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0262100479.
  • Jackendoff, Ray (1994). Patterns in the Mind: Language and Human Nature, 246, USA: Basic Books. ISBN 0465054625.
  • Jackendoff, Ray (2002). Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution, 477, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198270127.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

de:Ray Jackendoff


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