Referent Systems and Relational Grammar
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Relational Grammar (RG) was introduced in the 1970s as a theory of grammatical relations and relation change, for example, passivization, dative shift, and raising. Furthermore, the idea behind RG was that transformations as originally designed in generative grammar were unable to capture the common kernel of, e.g., passivization across languages. The researchconducted within RG has uncovered a wealth of phenomena for which it could produce a satisfactory analysis. Although the theory of Government and Binding has answered some of the complaints, still it left many phenomena unaccounted for. Referent Systems (RSs) have been introduced by Vermeulen (1995) to overcome certain weaknesses of Dynamic Semantics. Their usefulness has not yet been realized in semantical theory. We shall show here that their significance cannot be overestimated. Namely, we will show in this paper that there exists a fundamental affinity to RG. Both handle the relation between an argument and a functor by means of a shared relational sign, which is unique for each argument. This assignment can be changed. What is interesting is that the notion of a chômeur, which is central to RG, finds a natural treatment in RSs. This coincidence is in our view not accidental but reveals some fundamental properties of the human language faculty.
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