2005-08-23

Abstract for Richard Kayne's Movement & Silence

What follows is the abstract for Richard Kayne's Oxford U Press Book Movement & Silence (2005), as reported in LINGUIST announcement 16.2454, of August 24:

This volume collects important recent articles by Richard Kayne, one of the top formal linguists in the world. Although the articles range widely in topic and theme, they hang together in that they illustrate the power of the comparative approach, and that they reinforce Kayne's view that syntax is generally more complex than it first appears. As with other volumes in this series, the audience for the volume will be formal linguists and syntacticians around the world.

My question is, has Richard Kayne read this abstract? Will it appear on the cover of the book? Phrases like "top formal linguists in the world", "[essays that] hang together" and "power of the comparative approach" are beyond hackneyed and made me cringe as I read them. Is the abstract comparing Kayne to linguists from other worlds? Maybe Chomsky's Martians? Or some syntactician from Twin Earth? Then there's the nice, awkward conjunction that suggests one can't be both a formal linguist AND a syntactician: "the audience for the volume will be formal linguists and syntacticians". And the final crowning claim of the abstract is that the volume "reinforces Kayne's view that syntax is generally more complex than it first appears". Who would have ever thought? Syntax more complex than it appears? No. I refuse to believe it.

I don't know who wrote the abstract, but I can only hope it wasn't Kayne himself.

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