By Catherine J. Garvey.
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Extra info for A sketch of Malagasy grammar
The social is not absent from Chomskyan linguistics, despite its conceiving its subject as the individual speaker-listener. ” The pitfalls of attributing perfect knowledge of a language to a particular member of that speech community are only too apparent. ” (p. vii). In having recourse to an ideal speaker, Chomsky implicitly recognizes that it is not adequate to generalize in any simple fashion conclusions garnered in the study of a given individual speaker, to whom many accidental, inessential phenomena may and do attach.
Once British colonial policy is removed from the restricted scope in which it has been viewed, a closer consideration reveals a quite different picture than emerges out of the study of the American (or the French). It is not that British colonial language policy was not designed to serve imperial ends. It is simply that its goals were of quite a different order than those envisioned by linguistic imperialism and articulated by American policymakers in the Philippines. Rather than a separate policy designed to serve cultural and linguistic purposes, language and educational policy in British Asia and Africa during the two centuries of its colonial rule there was intrinsically intertwined with the essentially socioeconomic concerns of empire.
In that sense, it might appear that the two approaches being contrasted here – the ideal speaker–listener as opposed to the speech community as the fundamental unit of linguistic analysis – are rather identical. From the standpoint of linguistic theory, nevertheless, that is far from true. As the foregoing analysis suggests, a subset of linguistic theoretical problems have been approached by employing the ideal speaker–listener as a theoretical stand in for the speech community as the essential unit of analysis in linguistics.
A sketch of Malagasy grammar by Catherine J. Garvey.