Department of Humanities and Social Sciences

Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

HSS Seminar

The Ecology of the Syntax/ Thought


Tanmoy Bhattacharya
Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi, Delhi
Monday, March 2, 2015 at 3:00 PM
Venue : Conference Room No. 2
The main axiomatic of the Biolinguistic programme situates the science of Syntax firmly within the non-evolutionary theory of language evolution, where the generative power of language is determined only for a language of thought rather than speech. This is what I mean by ecology. Within this perspective, syntax can only be seen as a system of thought. Computational efficiency therefore is the significant core of fabric that constitutes evaluation of derivations. In other words, since syntax is thought, communicative efficiency has no role to play. Yet, it is an inefficient speech system that provides the outline of the landscape of an efficient system of thought. I will discuss the role of parsing from this point of view. The empirical domain will comprise a comparison of the Yes/No-question strategy in Bangla, English and Hindi, where it will be shown that the presence/ absence of the Y/N-question particle and/or different positioning of the same particle, is a result of efficient computation rather than due to a simple-minded Aristotlean reason like the ‘character of a language’.

back to seminars….