Grammatical illusions are linguistic equivalents of optical illusions in visual processing. A grammatical illusion amounts to an expression that is judged acceptable in spite of its grammatical deviance. It is the hitherto insufficiently appreciated fourth “aggregate state”, that completes the set of four logical pairings of the properties “(un-)grammatical” and “(un-)acceptable”.
A typical source of syntactic illusions is the mental processor's attempt to repair grammatical inconsistencies resulting from contradicting requirements of syntactic regularities. The resulting pseudo-solutions tend to be appraised as acceptable, although they remain patently ungrammatical.
The consequences of this phenomenon, when acknowledged, are evident: Acceptability turns out to be neither a necessary nor a sufficient property of a grammatical construction. The attempt of modeling any construction that is (introspectively) judged acceptable as grammatically well-formed is tantamount to the attempt of devising a grammatical derivation for constructions of arbitrary (un)grammaticality. Informant consultation results are contaminated and of limited value. Syntactic investigations (and semantic ones as well) deserve more reliable standards of data assessment than mere sampling of self-perception testimonies and corpus search.
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