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5 - Natalie Yu 5 How does the phrase"Colorless green ideas...

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Natalie Yu 5. How does the phrase “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” help us understand the difference between language acquisition and language learning? From the very first video we saw in the course, the famous sentence by Noam Chomsky, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously” was quoted at its beginning. The sentence is syntactically correct, yet its semantics is not. Its syntax is correct: Adjectives (“colorless” and “green”) modifying a noun subject (“ideas”), followed by an action verb done by the subject (“sleep”) and an adverb (“furiously”) modifying the verb. And the verb is conjugate i.e. agrees with the noun. (An example of a verb not agreeing with the noun will be “They eats”.) Nobody can really have an image of what is going on in the sentence because it is semantically conflicting. The semantics of being “colorless” is a sufficient condition of not being “green”; and an idea, even though it is a noun and is appropriate to be put as a subject in a
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