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Re: English "another"/Conlang Question

From:David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Date:Friday, August 31, 2007, 22:58
Alex wrote:
I'm a bit late to the discussion of this, I guess, but here goes: is it
really that much of an anathema to have a thing called syntax?

I haven't seen a convincing atheoretical reason yet for having
the two be different.  I haven't seen a convincing theoretical
one, either, but I think you'd need the former to really settle
the matter.

Alex (hereafter, it's always Alex):
For that matter, I'm not sold on the
crucial difference between a 'rule' and a 'pattern'.  Is not this
(from a
later message)

> {X [V] <-> should X [V (oblig. Z)] <-> should be Xing [V (oblig. > progr. Z)]} >
a rule, if one whose applicability is limited? >> Here's the difference. A rule is a magic box that takes some sort of input and turns it into the output: A > [MAGIC BOX] > B The patterns aren't really rules, but observations about the organization of paradigms. In a rule-based theory, you have, in your head, a set of rules, and a set of atoms. In a paradigm-based theory, you just have the lexicon: lists of words (and phrases, if you take it that far) arranged paradigmatically. The "rules" or patterns are a way of characterizing how a speakers fills each paradigm. So, for example, the idea is if you hear: "Yesterday, I got totally gloffed." You've then acquired some new lexical item (whose meaning you may not know, or may have to guess at). By its form, though, you can enter into your personal lexicon by comparing it to the various paradigms you've got--one of which can be condensed in this way: {X [V (stem)] <-> Xed [V (past, also passive part., etc.] Xs <-> [V ( pres)]} And whatever else you want to throw in there--essentially, the great big regular verb paradigm of English. You can then fill up the paradigm, which looks however you want: stem: gloff past: gloffed past part.: gloffed passive part.: gloffed pres.: gloffs And unless further evidence forces you to rethink your assumption, you've got it set. So, it's kind of like a rule, but these "rules" only really function when you acquire a new phrase, and the rules themselves are constantly modified, as you acquire new data. I personally think (with my *extensive* background in brain research [read: none at all]) that these generalizations that we form are not language specific--i.e., that these analogical patterns are applied to everything we take in, in one way or another. If this is something separate from the lexicon, I'd hesitate to call it syntax, since that term seems language-specific. In my experience, the main objection to an approach like this is not that they really look like rules, but that they have no explanatory power, and/or that they're purely descriptive. I would say that a paradigmatic approach can help to clear up a lot of the murky areas of a given natural language (which I find to be useful), and that the predictions you make are about how data is treated by a speaker of a given language. Admittedly, this area needs work. Maybe someday. << My gut-felt objection ran deeper than that -- I think I would have objected to /kagorota/ whatever lang it was proposed in. >> I can understand that. But would that objection vanish if suddenly there appeared a natural language that did just that? << It'd be interesting to know -- no, I understate: it's probably the crux of this whole matter to understand how the first instance of prefixing a preposition (or verbs with positional senses) started. >> Especially with respect to Latin, I'd be very curious. << What's a palm, btw? Is it what I'd call a palm branch? For me 'palm' = 'palm tree'. >> "Palm" = "palm branch" or "palm tree". I've never heard or used the term "palm branch", though; I've always heard them referred to (and referred to them) as palms. << So (zero-derived?) associated nouns came first. Are there any patterns to what sort of associated noun each verb selected that are relevant here? >> Umm...I'm not sure? How do you mean? -David ******************************************************************* "sunly eleSkarez ygralleryf ydZZixelje je ox2mejze." "No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn." -Jim Morrison