Ömer Naci Soykan
Pages 61-76
DOI: 10.5840/cultura2012925


A belief commonly held in linguistics and philosophy is that semantics is defined by syntax. In this article, I will demonstrate that this does not hold true for Turkish. A fundamental syntactical rule builds around the successive order of words or speech units in a sentence. The order determines the meaning of the sentence, which in turn is rendered meaningless if the rule is not observed. In a given language, if a sentence retains meaning without this rule being applied, then the rule cannot be said to determine meaning. Turkish, with its mathematical structure, is one such language. In effect, the degree to which semantics is determined by syntax varies considerably from one language to the other. If meaning is constructed through dissimilar means in different languages, then it is not possible to talk about a single theory of meaningfulness valid for all languages. Each language is uniquely determined, and is a reflection of its proper cultural background. A theory of language must take into account this cultural framework. In this paper, I shall deal with a different way of constructing meaning whereby syntax does not determine semantics, and present the linguistic possibilities it gives rise to.