Abstractions and idealisations: The construction of modern linguistics

Martin Stokhof and Michiel van Lambalgen


The paper addresses the way in which modern linguistics, – in particular, but not exclusively, the generative tradition –, has constructed its core concepts. It argues that a particular form of construction, reminiscent of, but crucially different from, abstraction, which is dubbed ‘idealisation’, plays a central role here. The resemblances and differences between abstractions and idealisations are investigated, and consequences of the reliance on idealisations are reviewed.

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