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About Network Grammar

Network Grammar’s principles are enough to account for much of English syntax, exploding the myths of orthodox theory. The principles of Network Grammar are:

  • a mental network holds knowledge, innate and acquired
  • each node in the network is the locus of a unique concept
  • a concept is realised by progression along the paths fanning out from the node
  • proposition comprises three concepts
  • language knowledge is held as special types of proposition – words and rules
  • words and rules are connected by category nodes, of which there are probably thousands to enable a many-to-many relationship between phonological words and meanings, and to allow common words also to have idiomatic meanings
  • junction of two not-necessarily-adjacent words creates a proposition consisting of the two meanings joined by a syntactic/semantic relation
  • the words in a sentence are processed in left to right sequence, with junctions being identified by scanning backwards (right to left) from each word
  • each junction has one word as parent, the other as dependent
  • an incoming word brings activation the one-and-only time in the sentence it forms a dependent; a word may also act zero, one or more times as a parent in the sentence
  • a junction may form more than one incomplete proposition (therefore not immediately delivered to cognition), allowing completion as a result of a later junction in the left-to-right processing of the sentence; this is important for the correct allocation of words to argument roles
  • there is the possibility of a word’s category changing because of its participation in a proposition, thereby affecting the possibilities for its participation in later propositions; important for the correct allocation of words to adjunct roles.

NG1. Why Noam Chomsky should read this blog

56 years is a long time for doing something.  Beethoven’s age at death.  And Hitler’s.  But modern linguistics, born of Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures, is now 57.  Is it also dead or just languishing?  Anyway it hasn’t delivered the killer theory.  OK, there’s a lot else to linguistics but, as Rutherford said, that’s stamp-collecting, not physics. Read more


NG2. What does sentence structure signify?

This is the first substantive piece for LanguidSlog.  It’s quite short and should be easy for the reader.  Books on syntax typically jump straight into tree diagrams or nested brackets to represent sentence structure.  The graphical conventions are not difficult.  But the purpose of those representations isn’t self-evident.  Let’s look at some issues. Read more


NG3. What would be in a sentence structure?

Last time we looked at how sentence structure could participate in production or comprehension.  For that to happen it must exist somehow in the mental architecture.  This piece outlines what the structure must contain during its brief existence. Read more

Motice and tenon

NG4. How could a sentence structure be formed?

LanguidSlog 3 outlined the items needed in a sentence structure.  It was rather long but not too difficult to follow, I hope.  This one is much shorter but nonetheless may require some thought.  It looks more closely at how junctions are formed in real time, concluding that the story is a bit implausible. Read more

Phrenology head for architecture

NG5. Mental architecture

Transient-items-with-pointers (from the analogy with computer software in the last piece) would be a blatant straw-man if it misrepresented existing theories.  But no theory really explains how sentence structure is implemented and, in this piece, knocking down the idea is perfectly legitimate. Read more

NG6. A transformation for grammar

Are any real syntacticians following Network Grammar?  If so, most are about to become alienated.  I hope that, for at least a few, the alienation is not from the blog but from their previous beliefs. Read more