John Robert "Haj" Ross
(born May 7
) is a linguist
who played a part in the development of generative semantics
(as opposed to interpretive semantics
) along with George Lakoff
, James D. McCawley
, and Paul Postal
. Ross was a student of Bernard Bloch
, Samuel Martin
and Rulon Wells
at Yale University
, Zellig Harris
, Henry Hiz
, Henry Hoenigswald
and Franklin Southworth
at the University of Pennsylvania
, and Roman Jakobson
, Noam Chomsky
, Morris Halle
, Paul Postal
, Edward Klima
and Hu Matthews
Ross met Lakoff in 1963 and began collaborating with him especially on work by and influenced by Postal. He was a professor of linguistics at MIT from 1966-1985 and has worked in Brazil, Singapore and British Columbia. He is currently at the University of North Texas and is well known in the Linguistics Department for his fascinating but often tangentially structured lectures. His class offerings there include Linguistics and Literature, Syntax, Field Methods, History of English, Metaphor and Semantics; he also oversees U.N.T.'s Doctorate in Poetics program.
Ross' 1967 dissertation is well-known for its contributions to syntactic theory. In it, he has coined several new terms describing syntactic phenomena that are well-known to this day. Some of these terms include copula switch, Do-Gobbling, freeze(s), gapping, heavy NP shift, (inner) islands, myopia, the penthouse principle, pied piping, pruning, scrambling, siamese sentences. sluicing, slifting, sloppy identity, sounding, squib, squishes, viability, and syntactic islands. Relating to syntactic islands, he also coined the terms "left-branch condition", "complex-np constraint", "coordinate structure constraint", and "sentential subject constraint".
Like Roman Jakobson, Ross analyzes poetry using linguistics (see poetics).
He describes himself and the interpenetration of his work on language in the following terms:
I am interested in poetics “and” semantax – I do not see the sense in trying to keep “them” separate. Worse – studying the structural beauties of language without simultaneously watching how the great writers make use of the structural capabilities of their languages to hint at the ineffable – such a limitation leads to joyless linguistic science. Language becomes flat, grey.
And the other tack – studying the incredible intricacies of the verbal art of the greatest masters of language without having the most subtle of linguistic tools to do one’s literary criticism with – this is as successful as doing astronomy with an inexpensive telescope.
The fundamental point to be kept in view is that a language is alive – chloroforming it and pinning it to a board to make it easier to talk about is no less distressing than seeing a luna moth in a museum exhibit. Without this liveness, there could be no verbal art. Computer languages like FORTRAN and C++ are magnificent instruments for making computers do what we want them to, but they are notably inadequate for sonnets.
All of us who love language must help to coinvent a chloroform-free linguistics which is at the same time a literary theory which contributes to cutting-edge phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics.
The noetic challenge posed by this necessity is not unique to the study of language: as Morris Berman says, in his epochal The Reenchantment of The World, for all fields of study, nothing less than a fusion of fact and value will do.
Les mots ont une âme. La plupart des lecteurs, et même des écrivains, ne leur demandent qu'un sens. Il faut trouver cette âme qui apparaît au contact d'autres mots, qui éclate et éclaire certains livres d'une lumière inconnue, bien difficile à faire jaillir.
Words have a soul. The majority of readers, and even of writers, demand only that they have a sense. It is necessary to find that soul, which appears in the contact with other words, which erupts from and illumines certain books with an unknown light, one not a little difficult to cause to gush forth.
- Guy de Maupassant, from “Flaubert vu par Guy de Maupassant en 1884” La Revue Bleue. 19 et 26 janvier 1884, Flaubert vu par Maupassant dans une étude parue en 1876
- Harris, Randy Allen. (1995). The linguistics wars. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509834-X.
- Joseph, John; Swiggers, Pierre (Eds.). (2000). Biographical dictionary of western linguistics, 1450-present. London: Routledge.
- Lakoff, George; & Ross, John R. (1966). Criterion for verb phrase constituency. In Harvard Computation Laboratory Report to the National Science Foundation on Mathematical linguistics and automatic translation (No. NSF-17). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Computation Laboratory.
- Lakoff, George; & Ross, John R. (1976). Is deep structure necessary?. In J. D. McCawley (Ed.), Syntax and semantics 7 (pp. 159-164).
- Ross, John R. (1966). A proposed rule of tree-pruning. In Harvard Computation Laboratory Report to the National Science Foundation on Mathematical linguistics and automatic translation (No. NSF-17). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Computation Laboratory.
- Ross, John R. (1966). Relativization in extraposed clauses. In Harvard Computation Laboratory Report to the National Science Foundation on Mathematical linguistics and automatic translation (No. NSF-17). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Computation Laboratory.
- Ross, John R. (1967). Constraints on variables in syntax. (Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). (Published as Ross 1986). (Available online at http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/15166).
- Ross, John R. (1967). On the cyclic nature of English pronominalization. In To honor Roman Jakobson: Essays on the occasion of his seventieth birthday (No. 3, pp. 1669-1682). The Hague: Mouton.
- Ross, John R. (1969). Auxiliaries as main verbs. In W. Todd (Ed.), Studies in philosophical linguistics (Series 1). Evanston, IL: Great Expectations Press.
- Ross, John R. (1970). On declarative sentences. In R. A. Jacobs & P. S. Rosenbaum (Eds.), Readings in English transformational grammar (pp. 222-272). Washington: Georgetown University Press.
- Ross, John R. (1970). Gapping and the order of constituents. In M. Bierwisch & Karl E. Heidolph (Eds.), Progress in linguistics. The Hague: Mouton.
- Ross, John R. (1972) Act. In Donald Davidson and Gilbert Harman (Eds.), Semantics of Natural Languages, D. Reidel and Company, Dordrecht, Holland, pp. 70-126.
- Ross, John R. (1972). The category squish: Endstation Hauptwort. In Paul M. Peranteau, Judith N. Levi, Gloria C. Phares, et. al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Eighth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 316-338.
- Ross, John R. (1972). Doubl-ing. In J. Kimball (Ed.), Syntax and semantics (Vol. 1, pp. 157-186). New York: Seminar Press.
- Ross, John R. (1972). A reanalysis of English word stress (part I). In Michael K. Brame (Ed.), Contributions to generative phonology. Austin: University of Texas Press.
- Ross, John R. (1973). Slifting. In Maurice Gross and Marcel Schützenberger (Eds.), The
Formal Analysis of Natural Languages, Mouton and Company, ’s Gravenhage, Holland, pp. 133-172.
- Ross, John R. (1973). The Penthouse Principle and the order of constituents. In Claudia Corum et. al. (Eds.), You Take the High Node and I’ll Take the Low Node, Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 397-422.
- Cooper, William E. and Ross, John R. (1975). World order. In Robin E. Grossman et. al. (Eds.), Papers from the Parasession on Functionalism, Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 63-111.
- Ross, Haj (1982). The sound of meaning. (1982). In Linguistics in the Morning Calm, edited by the Linguistic Society of Korea, Hanshin Publishing Company, Seoul, Korea, pp. 275-290.
- Ross, Haj (1984). Inner islands. In Claudia Brugman and Monica Macauley et al. (Eds.) Proceedings of the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley Linguistics Society, University of California, Berkeley, pp. 258 – 265.
- Ross, John R. (1986). Infinite syntax!. Norwood, NJ: ABLEX, ISBN 0-89391-042-2.
- Ross, Haj (1995) Defective noun phrases. In Audra Dainora, Rachel Hemphill, Barbara Lukas, Barbara Need and Sheri Pargman (Eds.) (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-First Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 398-440.
- Ross, Haj (2000) The frozenness of pseudoclefts – towards an inequality-based syntax. In Arika Okrent and John P. Boyle (Eds.), Proceedings of the Thirty-Sixth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 385-426.
- Ross, John R. (2004). Siamese sentences – a first look at a parallel construction. In Mary Andronis, Erin Debenport, Anne Pycha, and Keiko Yoshimura (Eds), Proceedings of the Thirty-Eighth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Chicago Linguistic Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. pp. 569-584.
- A list of quotes by Haj Ross