Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ    Attic   

Re: colorless green ideas

From:Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>
Date:Saturday, April 10, 2004, 19:01
That's interesting. I guess Chomsky will be reminded
as a philosoph, because everybody can understand this
example in his own way, and make his own conclusions
about it, even if it was not at all what he actually

Maybe there is a better example of the distortion
between "syntactically correct" and "semantically
correct. It goes like that:
- "I thought I'd try and find my way to the top of
that hill -"
"When you say "hill,"" the Queen interrupted, "I could
show you hills in comparison with which you'd call
that a valley".
and it's of course from Lewis Carroll.

What the Red Queen says would be more difficult to
interpret any logical way than colorless green ideas
sleeping furiously. I'm sure that the conlangers,
having much imagination and talent, WILL find some,
but what use would it be, if Carroll himself describes
this as "nonsense".

--- John Cowan <cowan@...> wrote:
> Andreas Johansson scripsit: > > > Quoting Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>: > > > > > In view of the richness of our language and the > wide use of metaphor > > > in 'ordinary' English (one doesn't have o resort > to 'poetry'), > > > I wonder if it is, in fact, possible to produce > a sentence using > > > standard English words in acceptable > grammatically formed sentence > > > that is completely stupid from a semantic point > of view. Now there's > > > a challenge :) > > > > The easy solution would seem to be oxymorons: He's > got a five-wheeled > > trike. > > I think it would be worthwhile at this point to > recall Chomsky's original > motive for constructing the CGISF sentence. He was > not directly concerned > with semantics at all: rather, he was refuting a > false theory of syntax. > > A behaviorist (I don't remember who) had proposed > that syntax was > associational: in particular, that a sentence was > grammatical if and only > if each pair of consecutive words had a high > collocational frequency in > the known corpus of the language. But by devising > the CGISF sentence, > Chomsky showed that even though "colorless green", > "green ideas", > "ideas sleep", and "sleep furiously" were all > extremely rare if not > nonexistent collocations, the sentence as a whole > was still grammatical. > > Consequently, syntax had to be (broadly) generative: > it had to have > the capability of constructing utterly novel > sentences.
===== Philippe Caquant "High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs) __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Finance Tax Center - File online. File on time.


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>