3. Grammaticality Meets Real-life Usage
Geoffrey Sampson [+]
Sussex University, Professor Emeritus
Linguists of all schools believe in some kind of contrast, in any language, between “grammatical” sequences of words and ill-formed sequences, sometimes marking the latter with stars. This division is often conceptualized in ways that are more sophisticated than a simple black/white contrast, but few linguists question the fundamental concept of grammaticality. However, grammaticality is a myth. There are no such things as “starred sentences”. This is not a mere aprioristic claim, it rests on hard evidence. I have been putting this point of view forward for many years now; my previous versions of the argument have sometimes been criticized as based on small quantities of data which I compiled myself, raising a suspicion of circularity, and they related only to English, arguably an untypical case. So here I look at a larger, non-English data-set compiled by people with whom I have no connexion. The results are very comparable to those which emerged from my English data.