Category Archives: Social Interaction
30 Apr Exceptional Logic
Exceptions to the Rules In natural language, exceptions to rules of grammar and other characteristics are frequent, and exhibit little consistency or predictability. They may multiply in discourse and in situations where the speaker/writer’s competence is limited. Idioms and irregular verbs are common exceptions which can be quite difficult to categorize or describe using formal descriptive grammar. Further exceptions […]
25 Apr Conceptual Paradigms
Conceptual Structure The different functions of language are acquired at different stages. As described by Sowa, these functions show why semantics can be considered a guide to how we learn syntax: “First, children associate words with concrete concepts used in perceiving the world and acting upon it. Next, they learn syntactic rules for mapping concepts […]
24 Apr What Was That Word?
Learning Stages From a cognitive perspective, we have reason to believe that, for most ordinary communication, words are more important to successful communication than sentences. As the complexity rises, so rises the importance of well-formed phrases and sentences. At an early age, kids begin to communicate using sounds. They progress from there to the single-word […]
Form vs. Substance If the substance is H2O, the form may be solid ice, liquid water or gaseous steam. What about language? We’ve talked about different language phenomena, including spoken, written and digitally stored language. Is the medium the form and the content the substance of language, or is there more? Saussure, a founder of the European flavor of structural […]
21 Apr Language Inherited
Language Acquisition How do children acquire language? How do they learn about grammar and productively apply its general rules to creating new utterances? Some attempts to explain this phenomenon have suggested that a set of grammar rules is innate. Advocates of this theory (Chomsky 1968) point to grammatical similarities, or universals, across languages and aver that a […]
Intuition When people use their native language, they don’t usually think about how verbs are supposed to be conjugated. They don’t stop to figure out number agreement, transitivity, or aspect. They just talk. Intuitions about language are probably not based on the grammar rules that govern how parts of speech go together. Instead, these intuitions […]
In A Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander points out that “…no pattern is an isolated entity. Each pattern can exist in the world only to the extent that it is supported by other patterns: the larger patterns in which it is embedded, the patterns of the same size that surround it, and the smaller […]
11 Apr Are You My Grammar?
Quest for a Formalism Many grammar formalisms have been proposed for use with computers. Many existing formalisms have been borrowed for computer applications. Currently, one of the most popular grammar theories among linguists is called Government and Binding (Chomsky, 1986). This theory has been used in some computerized language-analysis programs, but poor outcomes have demonstrated that it is […]