Study Guide

The Syntacticalists

The Syntacticalists

This clique of syntax lovers discusses the endless possibilities of word order and the grammatical relations between words. If you didn't understand that sentence, you probably shouldn't join.

Anyway, once they have some back-and-forth about how important the arrangement of words is in a sentence (and they're ready to get really wacky), they like to come up with sentences that wouldn't mean anything to anybody under any circumstances—thus proving that syntax matters.

Pāṇini, Patron Saint

Founder In Spirit
This guy is old school, as in 4th century B.C.E. Who knew they even cared about grammar back then? Well, they did, and Panini's concern was grammar in the Sanskrit language. In fact, he had 3,959 rules, but who's counting?

When it comes to grammar and syntax, Chomsky loves rules. When it comes to governments and corporations, not so much. But Chomsky credits Panini as being the founder of modern generative grammar.

John Lyons and Paul Postal

Co-Presidents
These two cheerleaders of Chomsky's work are natural leaders for the Syntacticalists. Lyons is unwavering in his promotion of the importance of Chomsky's work to linguistic theory—and you can always find a dog-eared copy of Chomsky's Syntactic Structures tucked under his arm.

For his part, Postal makes sure that Chomsky's contributions are never forgotten. He's essentially forging an endless campaign to promote Chomsky's invaluable contributions to phrase structure, even though some people argue (quite understandably) that Chomsky's legacy's already set in stone.