Single Idea 18007

[catalogued under 19. Language / C. Assigning Meanings / 1. Syntax]

Full Idea

In 1957 Chomsky argues that syntax is an independent field from semantics. …To support this claim he argues that the now-famous category mistake 'Colourless green ideas sleep furiously' is grammatical but meaningless.

Gist of Idea

Syntax is independent of semantics; sentences can be well formed but meaningless


report of Noam Chomsky (Syntactic Structure [1957]) by Ofra Magidor - Category Mistakes 1.3

Book Reference

Magidor,Ofra: 'Category Mistakes' [OUP 2013], p.15

A Reaction

I'm tempted by the thought that this famous sentence actually is meaningful, although the meaning is fragmentary, and any proposition which can be assembled from it appears to be blatantly false.

Related Idea

Idea 17999 Strong compositionality says meaningful expressions syntactically well-formed are meaningful [Magidor]