Is your syntactic component really necessary?

D. Van Lancker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Current, popular views in linguistic science continue to emphasise a pre-eminent role of syntax in models of language and in theories of language evolution, despite the considerable evidence pointing to the importance of semantics. Observations from language pathologies, arising from psychosis, dementia, and stroke, suggest that successful communication is more dependent on semantic than syntactic processes. Linguistic models focusing on syntactic structure have also failed to describe fixed, familiar expressions which are important in normal and impaired communication. Evidence is given to argue that in human verbal communication, verbal meaning can proceed successfully without benefit of grammar, but grammar is ineffectual without meanings. A valid description of human language requires greater attention to semantics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-360
Number of pages18
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • LPN and LVN


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