Ray Jackendoff, The architecture of the language faculty. Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press, 1997. Pp. xiv+262.
In The architecture of the language faculty Jackendoff responds to the
Minimalist Program (MP) of Chomsky (1995). There are three major
themes: the conceptual foundations of MP and its historical antecedents; the
interfaces between syntactic structure, phonetic structure and conceptual
structure, and the nature of the lexicon. The basic approach is that of
Jackendoff (1983, 1990), with roots going back at least as far as Jackendoff
1975. In the first chapter Jackendoff sets out the more or less standard views
about universal grammar and subjects them to a critical analysis. Chapters
2–4 focus on the various ‘interfaces’ between levels of representation,
and on how the interface relations are reified in individual lexical entries. Chapters
5–7 explore the properties of various types of lexical entries and the relations
between them. Chapter 8 concludes with a speculative essay on the relation
between language and thought.
This book is a rich compilation of observations, analyses, suggestions,
perspectives, speculations and proposals. One could easily write a review at
least as long as the book, developing and responding to the many ideas that
it contains. Since space here is limited, I will concentrate on the main
conceptual and foundational issues that are addressed by the book. In many
ways, Jackendoff's work points to significant departures from classical
perspectives on the organization of grammar. I will focus some attention on
those areas where even more radical steps might be worth pursuing.