Ray Jackendoff
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Ray Jackendoff (born January 23, 1945) is an American
linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
. He is professor of philosophy, Seth Merrin Chair in the
Humanities Humanities are List of academic disciplines, academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with Divinity (academic discipline), divinity and referred to what is now called classic ...

Humanities
and, with
Daniel Dennett Daniel Clement Dennett III (born March 28, 1942) is an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover of wisdom' ...

Daniel Dennett
, co-director of the
Center for Cognitive Studies The Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University Tufts University is a Private university, private research university on the border of Medford, Massachusetts, Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1852 as Tufts College b ...
at
Tufts University Tufts University is a Private university, private research university on the border of Medford, Massachusetts, Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1852 as Tufts College by Christian universalism, Christian universalists who ...
. He has always straddled the boundary between
generative linguistics Generative grammar, or generativism , is a linguistic theory that regards linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying ...
and
cognitive linguistics Cognitive linguistics is an interdisciplinary branch of linguistics, combining knowledge and research from cognitive science, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, social psychology, cognitive anthropology and linguistics. Models and theoretical ...
, committed to both the existence of an innate
universal grammar Universal grammar (UG), in modern linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign lang ...
(an important thesis of generative linguistics) and to giving an account of language that is consistent with the current understanding of the human mind and
cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: attention, the formation of ...
(the main purpose of cognitive linguistics). Jackendoff's research deals with the
semantics Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as a means by which to connect to or link to, another o ...
of
natural language In neuropsychology Neuropsychology is a branch of psychology. It is concerned with how a person's cognition and behavior are related to the brain and the rest of the nervous system. Professionals in this branch of psychology often focus on ...
, its bearing on the formal structure of
cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as: attention, the formation of ...
, and its lexical and syntactic expression. He has conducted extensive research on the relationship between conscious awareness and the
computational theory of mind In philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number o ...
, on syntactic theory, and, with
Fred LerdahlAlfred Whitford (Fred) Lerdahl (born March 10, 1943, in Madison, Wisconsin) is the Fritz Reiner Professor Emeritus of Musical Composition at Columbia University, and a composer and Music theory, music theorist best known for his work on musical gramm ...
, on musical cognition, culminating in their
generative theory of tonal music A generative theory of tonal music (GTTM) is a theory of music conceived by American composer and music theorist Fred Lerdahl and American linguist Ray Jackendoff and presented in the 1983 book of the same title. It constitutes a "formal description ...
. His theory of
conceptual semanticsConceptual semantics is a framework for semantic analysis developed mainly by Ray Jackendoff in 1976. Its aim is to provide a characterization of the conceptual elements by which a person understands words and sentences, and thus to provide ''an expl ...
developed into a comprehensive theory on the foundations of language, which indeed is the title of a monograph (2002): ''Foundations of Language. Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution''. In his 1983 ''Semantics and Cognition'', he was one of the first linguists to integrate the visual faculty into his account of meaning and human language. Jackendoff studied under linguists
Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gesture ...

Noam Chomsky
and
Morris Halle Morris Halle (; July 23, 1923 – April 2, 2018) was a Latvian-born Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite ...

Morris Halle
at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a in . Established in 1861, MIT has since played a key role in the development of modern technology and science, ranking it among the top in the world. Founded in response to the increasing ...
, where he received his PhD in linguistics in 1969. Before moving to
Tufts Tufts University is a on the border of and . It was founded in 1852 as Tufts College by who sought to provide a institution of higher learning. Tufts remained a small college until the 1970s, when it transformed into a large offering se ...
in 2005, Jackendoff was professor of linguistics and chair of the linguistics program at Brandeis University from 1971 to 2005. During the 2009 spring semester, he was an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. Jackendoff was awarded the Jean Nicod Prize in 2003. He received the 2014 Rumelhart Prize, David E. Rumelhart Prize. He has also been granted honorary degrees by the Université du Québec à Montréal (2010), the National Music University of Bucharest (2011), the Music Academy of Cluj-Napoca (2011), the Ohio State University (2012), and Tel Aviv University (2013).


Interfaces and generative grammar

Jackendoff argues against a syntax-centered view of generative grammar (which he calls ''syntactocentrism''), at variance with earlier models such as the standard theory (1968), the extended standard theory (1972), the revised extended standard theory (1975), the government and binding theory (1981), and the minimalist program (1993), in which syntax is the sole generative component in the language. Jackendoff takes syntax, semantics, and phonology all to be generative, interconnected via interface components. The task of his theory is to formalize the proper interface rules. While rejecting mainstream generative grammar due to its syntactocentrism, the cognitive semantics school has offered an insight that Jackendoff would sympathize with, namely, that meaning is a separate combinatorial system not entirely dependent upon syntax. Unlike many of the cognitive semantics approaches, he contends that neither syntax alone should determine semantics, nor vice versa. Syntax need only interface with semantics to the degree necessary to produce properly ordered phonological output (see Jackendoff 1996, 2002; Culicover & Jackendoff 2005).


Contribution to musical cognition

Jackendoff, together with
Fred LerdahlAlfred Whitford (Fred) Lerdahl (born March 10, 1943, in Madison, Wisconsin) is the Fritz Reiner Professor Emeritus of Musical Composition at Columbia University, and a composer and Music theory, music theorist best known for his work on musical gramm ...
, has been interested in the human capacity for music and its relationship to the human capacity for language. In particular, music has structure as well as a "grammar" (a means by which sounds are combined into structures). When a listener hears music in an idiom he or she is familiar with, the music is not merely heard as a stream of sounds; rather, the listener constructs an unconscious understanding of the music and is able to understand pieces of music never heard previously. Jackendoff is interested in what cognitive structures or "mental representation, mental representations" this understanding consists of in the listener's mind, how a listener comes to acquire the musical grammar necessary to understand a particular musical idiom, what innate resources in the human mind make this acquisition possible and, finally, what parts of the human music capacity are governed by general cognitive functions and what parts result from specialized functions geared specifically for music (Jackendoff & Lerdahl, 1983; Lerdahl, 2001). Similar questions have also been raised regarding human language, although there are differences. For instance, it is more likely that humans evolved a specialized language mental module, module than having evolved one for music, since even the specialized aspects of music comprehension are tied to more general cognitive functions.Jackendoff, R.& Lerdahl, F. The capacity for music: what is it and what's special about it?, ''Cognition'',100, 33–72 (2006).
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Selected works

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See also

*Conceptual semantics *Mentalist postulate *Jean Nicod Prize, List of Jean Nicod Prize laureates *X-bar theory


References


External links


Website at Tufts UniversityCenter for Cognitive Studies at Tufts UniversityRay Jackendoff, Conceptual Semantics, Harvard University, 13 November 2007 (video)''Semantics and Cognition''
in Shalom Lappin (1996), "The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory", 539–559. Oxford: Blackwell.
''Possible stages in the evolution of the language capacity''
Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Vol. 3, No. 7 (July 1999). {{DEFAULTSORT:Jackendoff, Ray 1945 births Living people Linguists from the United States Semanticists Syntacticians Cognitive scientists Brandeis University faculty Tufts University faculty Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Jean Nicod Prize laureates Rumelhart Prize laureates Santa Fe Institute people Fellows of the Cognitive Science Society Linguistic Society of America presidents