Show Summary Details

p. 877. How much is systematic?locked

  • P. H. Matthews

Abstract

To say that languages are systems is to draw a line around what we are studying. ‘How much is systematic?’ points out that a line drawn differently might include much that is less determinate. For instance, if differences in pitch or meaning cannot be reduced to exact contrasts, they are strictly not part of one's knowledge of the language as a system. Many linguists search for constraints that reveal the character of language, or of languages, in general. Therein lies the excitement of Chomsky's Universal Grammar. If he is right, it is reasonable to concentrate on what belongs to it, and abstract away from interfering factors that do not.

Access to the complete content on Very Short Introductions online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.