Grammar Without Grammaticality

Geoffrey Sampson:

" is notorious that the ideal of a grammar which fully succeeds in correctly distinguishing grammatical from ungrammatical sequences has never been attained for even one speaker."

"In a natural language, one speaks of "analytic statements" which are true by virtue of their meaning (that is, they can be inferred from the empty set of premises), versus "synthetic statements" whose meaning does not give us their truth-value – we need one or more factual premises before we can establish whether a synthetic statement is true or false....

From the Second World War onwards, a central preoccupation of English-speaking philosophy (I believe it would be fair to say "the
central preoccupation") was language, and the central point about language as actually used in everyday life ("ordinary language") was that there is in fact no distinction between the analytic and the synthetic."

"Earlier in my own career I accepted Wittgenstein’s and Quine’s arguments against the analytic/synthetic distinction, but I believed that grammar was different: I supposed that there really is a well-defined set of valid English sentences, although definite rules prescribing how we can move inferentially among them do not exist. More recently, I have come to see the grammatical/ungrammatical distinction as resembling the analytic/synthetic distinction: they are inventions imposed without scientific basis on intrinsically fluid realities."