GARCIA adolfo Martin
congresos y reuniones científicas
A Historical Survey into the Origins of Lambian Linguistics
Pitzer College (Claremont, California)
Conferencia; LACUS Forum 2009: “Mechanisms of Linguistic Behavior”; 2009
Institución organizadora:
Linguistic Association of Canada and the United States (LACUS)
Professor Sydney Lamb has devoted his entire career to studying language from a realistic perspective. Although nowadays his concern with linguistic realities is mainly associated with the establishment of the neural substrates of language (Lamb 1999, 2006), his quest for the actual nature of linguistic systems largely antedates his work in neurolinguistics (e.g., Lamb 1966a, 1966b, 1972, 1975). In this sense, the present paper offers a historical survey of the origin of Lamb’s theory, concentrating on his characterization of abstract linguistic systems before issues of neurological implementation were even considered. An overview of Lambian neurocognitive linguistics in its present state will be followed by a recapitulation of the exclusively linguistic (non-cognitive, non-neurological) observations that paved the way for Lamb’s theory to develop. A summary will be then offered of Lamb’s refutation of procedural orientation –as practiced by Bloomfield (1933)–, and process description and mutational mechanisms –epitomized in Chomsky (1964, 1965)– in linguistic description. Next, the origins of Stratificational Grammar (Lamb 1966c) will be traced back to Lamb’s pre-doctoral years, during which he was greatly influenced by Hjelmslev (1943/53/61) and Hockett (e.g., 1947, 1954). Thereupon, an account will be provided of the birth of Relational Network Theory (Lamb, 1966b, 1966c), the development of whose main features will be chronologically assessed. The conclusion will be that if Lamb’s theory now proves to have great neurological plausibility, it is because its exclusively linguistic foundations deviated from the mainstream proposals of the mid-twentieth century, and were erected instead on unbiased empirical bases.