My doubts about formal grammar

There is something very similar to the chicken-or-the-egg question about formal grammar in which meaning is ignored and only the formal properties of the string is discussed.

But would that string exist without production of meaning, without the communicative desire to impart something in an instance of existence?

This is also like asking what is the meaning of life as if life needs to have some universal meaning or purpose before life can arise. There is something a priori about this logic.

This is where Chomskyan linguistics, to me, fails to convince – that there can be an explanation of language without meaning. Whether it be a word, phrase, clause or sentence there will always be two sides to a sign (in the Saussurean sense). Phoneme and basic-unit phonology are different in that they are the building blocks of language and not invested with meaning.

By looking at language and variation in the system is a mathematical exercise that cannot explain the inherent meaning of utterances (which, sadly, it is not trying to explain at all in the first place). For me language is about meaning, and about the limitations a language’s form has on expressing meaning and not the other way around. Syntax should therefore take into account semantics or rather syntax should be studied through semantics.

Finnegans Wake, Joyces Wake, Me-s Wake

I finally found (and puchased) a copy of Joyce’s Finnegans Wake in one of my local bookstores. I had not want to purchase it online because book hunting is so much more fun.

In putting into my library database I had found even the LibraryThing community could get it wrong. The listing was

Finnegan’s Wake

which is not correct, of course.

The title is Finnegans Wake where multiple Finnegans wake up (evidenced by the loop from last sentence back to the first opening sentence), and not the wake of Finnegan. It is indistinguishable when pronounced much like difference and Derrida’s play on words differance.