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General Linguistics => Linguist's Lounge => Outside of the box => Topic started by: waive15 on May 15, 2020, 09:26:15 AM

Title: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: waive15 on May 15, 2020, 09:26:15 AM
Hi,

The discussion warmed my heart. 

Daniel(2014) /Is language really rule-based?/:
"In a very specific sense, I'm wondering if languages follow "rules". Is language strictly rule-based?"

waive15(2020):
Yes, "it" is.

jkpate(2014) /"Do you miss not having a job?"/:
"I don't want to derail the thread into the philosophy of logic/mathematics, but it's worth remembering that, formally speaking, there is no monolithic notion of "logical." A logic is just a mathematical object, and statements that may be a theorem of one logic will not be of another. In particular, not( not( P ) ) does not entail P in Intuitionist logic. So blanket statements that "X is logical" or "X is not logical" are meaningless; you have to define the logic you are using. Maybe language really is logical, once we get the right system of logic."

Immanuel Kant:
Every natural science contains as much truth as much mathematics it contains.


 
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 15, 2020, 10:27:56 AM
You're quoting me out of context:
http://linguistforum.com/outside-of-the-box/is-language-really-rule-based-(details-inside)/
And also discussion here: http://linguistforum.com/english/'do-you-miss-not-having-a-job'/

What I said was that, as you did quote, I was wondering about rules in a specific sense. I went on to explain several paragraphs what I meant by that. Here's one important part:
Quote
In other words, are there exceptions to rules? If so, they aren't really rules. They're just patterns. And patterns exist everywhere, in all behaviors. So language isn't really logical then.
Regardless, my position was for the sake of discussion, not a specific mathematical proposal.

One of my professors cited Pānini as having proposed that "there are no exceptions, only more specific rules", although I've never been able to track down the exact source for that phrasing in the quotation. Regardless, that's one way to look at it. Generalizations apply across all contexts, except where a narrower rule applies more specifically instead. That's one way of including exceptions.

Here's where things get puzzling:
Quote
It's not a question of whether, for example, a language does or does not have "double negation" which is said (by prescriptivists) to be objectively illogical. It's a question of whether these forms follow rules within the languages themselves.

So the question I was wondering about, and it's a tough one, is how exceptions work. Do rules apply generally? Do they apply to only a subset of constructions to which they could in theory apply? Do they apply but allow other more specific rules to override them as exceptions? Do they always apply but let speakers ignore them via pragmatics?

In the end, What is a rule? And how can't it be broken?

I take a rule as something more absolute than an observable pattern. What does it mean to say our theory involves rules, not just patterns?

Anyway, since then I've written an article about some of this, including some of the data. I didn't really address the question about "rules" except to point out that these types of examples are difficult to deal with from a traditional theoretical perspective:
http://hdl.handle.net/2142/102155

To be clear, I don't really disagree with you (nor jkpate!). But you have not yet answered what to do about the weird cases with "exceptions". If you want to maintain that there are "rules", then how do you formulate them? It's not easy.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 15, 2020, 11:57:05 PM
> Do they apply but allow other more specific rules to override them as exceptions?
I believe this is the best option. That is how context-sensitive grammars work. This is the highest reasonable structure for describing (formal) languages nowadays I believe. The next level is when (almost??? not sure) everything is possible and there is nothing to study.
> In the end, What is a rule?
One might think of the rules as about a set of entities (there are 5 of something like that) that allow to generate the valid sentences of the language or to solve the reverse task – to determine if a sentence belongs to the language. One applies the rules of the grammar to the sentence recursively and if there is a sequence of the rules that is able to “process” the whole sentence than the sentence belongs to the language.
> And how can't it be broken?
I believe the rules either apply or not. If one generates the sentences of a language with the rules than the sentence belongs to the language by definition. If one has a sentence and there is no a sequence of the rules of the language that may be applied to it than the sentence does not belong to the language. If one has a sentence, he knows that it belongs to the language but there are no rules in the grammar that apply to it that one needs to add a new rule/rules to the grammar. And vice versa if grammar can produce sentences that do not belong to the language one needs to correct the rules of the grammar. So, I believe it is easier to think the rules are not broken but they do not apply to a sentence.
But I doubt one may create a finite grammar even for a subset of a real language that takes into account the semantics.
Such (algebraic) approach may probably help a little in understanding some aspects of languages but it looks like it is nearly totally useless in practice – the amount of entities that make up the grammar of a real language appears to be enormous. I wish I could read more about it in a popular language somewhere.
Just my rather dilettantish point of view, I am not a professional or even an English speaker.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 16, 2020, 12:05:04 PM
Quote
"Rules" are just as imaginary as "observable patterns".
Then what are they? They must reflect some kind of psychological reality, and they must also be helpful in predicting linguistic behavior. Different theories approach "rules" (and "patterns") differently. I'm asking about nuance, not whether we need something, and I don't have a definitive answer.

Quote
Scientific method is PRAGMATIC.
Pragmatics, in Linguistics, is the study of language usage in context. It's not related to the sense of "be pragmatic in your decisions". Thus Pragmatics (usage in context) can add or change meanings in an utterance from what they literally mean via Semantics.

As for the rest, we seem to have some different perspectives about language, but regardless I think the "right" theory is the one that properly unifies various perspectives and answers a variety of different questions, not just the ones that one theory-maker thinks of at the beginning. In Linguistics, it really is hard to figure out what that overall-theory should look like!

Similar to what you've said jokingly above, it seems that the biggest weakness in any theory (like popular theories of syntax, or your theory that language is just mathematics) is the data. How to account for the data... :)
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: waive15 on May 16, 2020, 05:39:45 PM
Hi, Daniel,

I agree.

"No need to give up a good theory just because it isn't true." :)


P.S.
The last post I wrote was a babble. It is gone.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 16, 2020, 07:13:55 PM
Rock100,
Quote
The next level is when (almost??? not sure) everything is possible and there is nothing to study.
That's the kind of question that interests me: can we really delimit natural language to identify specific things that are impossible? I have yet to see conclusive evidence of that, but I enjoy looking for it.

Quote
One might think of the rules as about a set of entities (there are 5 of something like that) that allow to generate the valid sentences of the language or to solve the reverse task – to determine if a sentence belongs to the language. One applies the rules of the grammar to the sentence recursively and if there is a sequence of the rules that is able to “process” the whole sentence than the sentence belongs to the language.
Sure, and that's what we do with the toy grammars in a class. But they're never complete.
Quote
I believe the rules either apply or not. If one generates the sentences of a language with the rules than the sentence belongs to the language by definition. If one has a sentence and there is no a sequence of the rules of the language that may be applied to it than the sentence does not belong to the language. If one has a sentence, he knows that it belongs to the language but there are no rules in the grammar that apply to it that one needs to add a new rule/rules to the grammar. And vice versa if grammar can produce sentences that do not belong to the language one needs to correct the rules of the grammar. So, I believe it is easier to think the rules are not broken but they do not apply to a sentence.
But I doubt one may create a finite grammar even for a subset of a real language that takes into account the semantics.
Such (algebraic) approach may probably help a little in understanding some aspects of languages but it looks like it is nearly totally useless in practice – the amount of entities that make up the grammar of a real language appears to be enormous. I wish I could read more about it in a popular language somewhere.
What you're saying makes sense abstractly, but the same problem from above applies: the data! You need to show that this approach really works for all data. And that's no easy task.

Quote
Just my rather dilettantish point of view, I am not a professional...
I do this full time, and all I can say with certainty is that I'm not sure. It's complicated. That's why I asked the original question. Perhaps better phrasing would simply be: How do rules apply?
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 17, 2020, 12:56:28 AM
> What you're saying makes sense abstractly, but the same problem
> from above applies: the data! You need to show that this approach
> really works for all data. And that's no easy task.
Yeah, this is true. But to be honest it is not just uneasy task it is impossible in the present technologies task. Here go some elaborations of enormous notion above. To be able to deal with the entities that describe a real language grammar one would need to store the data (you are talking about) in a memory. Let us suppose we have the most efficient memory ever – one atom per bit of the information. I believe enormous in this case will be one third of the atoms that make up the Earth. So, the top-down approach I consider will never work (at least in the nearest future) – nobody allows me to use such resources. So I believe this “abstract” view may help to understand something but is totally useless in solving real practical tasks. I also believe that the linguistics as the science uses more pragmatic (with it’s drawbacks, of course) bottom-up approach. You, linguists, do have some working pieces of the system that really work (at least they do pay your bills) but you will never get the working system as the whole (due to the same reason of the lack of resources – the approaches are equivalent). I am not a professional, I am just a kind of a sympathetic one. I do like the subject but I begin to start to understand that from the practical point of view we are a kind of out of the main stream. It looks like for practical stuff the artificial intelligence (AI) gets much better results. The probability theory wins another battlefield. It looks like it is fun to know some fundamentals but if one needs to sell a real product he has to use different approaches that are probably not that exact but require fewer resources. There is the thing I know for sure: in the formal languages world – compilers (the translating grammars from one very formal/simple representation/language to another) – people get rid of grammar helping tools in favor of manual coding. So, the theory appeared to be a kind of disappointing. But I have not heard about using an AI as a translating grammar so far too.

> How do rules apply?
If one has an unambiguous grammar (the set of the rules) then he tries the rules one by one in sequence until one of them works. This is for parsing. I have never used formal grammars for generating the sentences (parsing and translation only) so I will not invent something but it shall be easy too. For example, here is a variant of the English grammar (very simplified and probably incomplete):
<S>: <Exclamation><subject>
<S>:<adverb><aux verb><subject><predicate>
<S>:<subject><predicate><adjunct>
<subject>: <pronoun>|<article><noun>
<adjunct>: <noun>
<predicate>: <verb>|<compound verb>
<verb>: go|goes|drink|kill
<noun>: elephant|home
<article>: <empty>|a|an|the
If we try the sentence (S) “an elephant goes home” than the third starting rule (S) applies. The algorithm is the following: you take s1, find <exclamation>, check the rule(s) for exclamations, etc. For the third rule <subject>-><pronoun> -- fails, go to the alternative (|) <subject><article> --> an, Ok, so far <subject><article><noun> an elephant – perfect! We have <article><noune><predicate> --> find verb goes, and so on. This is how I speak English indeed.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 17, 2020, 11:46:18 AM
Quote
Yeah, this is true. But to be honest it is not just uneasy task it is impossible in the present technologies task. Here go some elaborations of enormous notion above. To be able to deal with the entities that describe a real language grammar one would need to store the data (you are talking about) in a memory. Let us suppose we have the most efficient memory ever – one atom per bit of the information. I believe enormous in this case will be one third of the atoms that make up the Earth. So, the top-down approach I consider will never work (at least in the nearest future) – nobody allows me to use such resources. So I believe this “abstract” view may help to understand something but is totally useless in solving real practical tasks. I also believe that the linguistics as the science uses more pragmatic (with it’s drawbacks, of course) bottom-up approach. You, linguists, do have some working pieces of the system that really work (at least they do pay your bills) but you will never get the working system as the whole (due to the same reason of the lack of resources – the approaches are equivalent). I am not a professional, I am just a kind of a sympathetic one. I do like the subject but I begin to start to understand that from the practical point of view we are a kind of out of the main stream. It looks like for practical stuff the artificial intelligence (AI) gets much better results. The probability theory wins another battlefield. It looks like it is fun to know some fundamentals but if one needs to sell a real product he has to use different approaches that are probably not that exact but require fewer resources. There is the thing I know for sure: in the formal languages world – compilers (the translating grammars from one very formal/simple representation/language to another) – people get rid of grammar helping tools in favor of manual coding. So, the theory appeared to be a kind of disappointing. But I have not heard about using an AI as a translating grammar so far too.
Just two replies:
1. The task isn't impossible. Human brains do it with ease. If it was hard to understand astronomical scales, I'd understand. Hard to understand black holes and quasars. But actually it seems like we understand them better than we understand ourselves. We don't know how language works, but we keep using it every day, easily and happily.
2. The irony is that while appealing to a mathematical solution you're actually describing ideas more along the lines of Cognitive Linguistics with a connectionist approach to the data, rather than abstracted formal rules. Chomsky's revolution was about taking a formal, mathematical approach to understanding the rules of language. You're saying we should approach it mathematically, yet in the end you're drifting toward the now competing theory where language is treated as an emergent phenomenon of connectionism in the brain, not a listable set of specific rules!

Quote
If one has an unambiguous grammar (the set of the rules) then he tries the rules one by one in sequence until one of them works. This is for parsing. I have never used formal grammars for generating the sentences (parsing and translation only) so I will not invent something but it shall be easy too. For example, here is a variant of the English grammar (very simplified and probably incomplete):
Sure, but that's the easy part! The hard part is getting it to work with the weird data. I have my students write mini computational grammars that work like that, and they work well, but they run into problems when you try to explain nuances or "exceptions". Claiming that rules apply logically but only treating the most general cases is not a scientific argument at all. That was my point to begin with.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 17, 2020, 02:01:39 PM
> The task isn't impossible. Human brains do it with ease.
Absolutely right. But they do it a different way. We have tried to solve the task analytically and failed. The formal grammars appeared to be of very limited use. This was my point.

> The irony is that while appealing to a mathematical solution you're
> actually describing ideas more along the lines of Cognitive Linguistics with
> a connectionist approach to the data, rather than abstracted formal rules.
> Chomsky's revolution was about taking a formal, mathematical approach to
> understanding the rules of language. You're saying we should approach it
> mathematically, yet in the end you're drifting toward the now competing
> theory where language is treated as an emergent phenomenon of connectionism
> in the brain, not a listable set of specific rules!
Yeah, it is a shame that tossing a coin approach works better.

> I have my students write mini computational grammars that work like that,
> and they work well, but they run into problems when you try to explain nuances
> or "exceptions". Claiming that rules apply logically but only treating the most
> general cases is not a scientific argument at all. That was my point to begin with.
If I understand you right, you need a facility to describe a rule in a context. A kind of that in a concrete context the rule changes to something different. I believe this may be done with a context-sensitive grammar:
<pre_condition1><rule><post_condition1>:= …
<pre_condition2><rule>:= …
<pre_condition2><rule><post_condition1>:= …
etc.
Context-sensitive grammars are a way out of my head; I do not understand them and cannot figure out how they may work in a real application.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 17, 2020, 02:21:23 PM
The problem is that connectionism doesn't lend itself to abstraction as formalism. You can't approach it in the way you're going at the top of your answer and end up with a rule like you're proposing at the end. And if that's true, then it's not really clear if there are rules anymore at all, just emergent patterns.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 17, 2020, 04:10:12 PM
> The problem is that connectionism doesn't lend itself to abstraction
> as formalism. You can't approach it in the way you're going at the top
> of your answer and end up with a rule like you're proposing at the end.
No, no, the moaning about “it will never work in general” and the proposed solution for the exceptions handling are unrelated. Formal grammars do their job within the proper environments and the exceptions handling proposal was for such environments only.
By the way, in real at least software projects (where nobody uses context-sensitive grammars at all) the context-dependent features are added with some additional non-grammar helpers like tables, dictionaries, etc. And if you add the stack data structure to a banal finite state machine to handle it’s states you will get a context-free capable processor which will be practically enough for a lot of real context-free applications. So the exception handling solution as above may be not a universal one but enough for some purposes.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 17, 2020, 04:23:14 PM
Quote
No, no, the moaning about “it will never work in general” and the proposed solution for the exceptions handling are unrelated.
Such claims without evidence are, well, without evidence. Make a perfect grammar, and show it to us. Until then, the objection is valid, because in practice unusual data can derail an analysis, and it often does. Those obsessed with generalizations only tend to work themselves into a corner where they can't explain less typical data.
Quote
By the way, in real at least software projects (where nobody uses context-sensitive grammars at all) the context-dependent features are added with some additional non-grammar helpers like tables, dictionaries, etc. And if you add the stack data structure to a banal finite state machine to handle it’s states you will get a context-free capable processor which will be practically enough for a lot of real context-free applications. So the exception handling solution as above may be not a universal one but enough for some purposes.
I'm losing track of what you're claiming. You're jumping back and forth between connectionist (e.g. neural network) approaches and formal grammars. I responded in a post above, but you did not address that, instead talking about ideas we've already covered.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: panini on May 17, 2020, 09:33:06 PM
Panini (the older one) never said anything as verbose as "there are no exceptions, only more specific rules". Actually, his treatment of "exceptions" was to state a general rule, vidhi, then state the exception, niyama.

Before embarking on a discussion of a question like "Is language strictly rule-based?", you have to define basic terms at least well enough that there is agreement about what "language" is and what a "rule" is. Also, what it means to be "based" on something. In the standard conception of "rule" in generative grammar, a rule is a mapping from representational string to representational string. In models prevalent up to the early 70's, all parts of a grammar are based on rules. In current models of grammar, only certain theories of phonology have rules (I don't understand morphology, so it's unclear what people are thinking there). So, yes or no, depending on which parts of grammar, and which theories. You can modify the definition of "rule" so that Optimality Theory constraints are "rules". So, you have to be more specific about what a "rule" is.

Also, "language" is a huge thing. Linguists study the structure of language, relying on a concept of "grammar", although what a "grammar" is is rather unclear, if you sum up the various things that people think grammars do. Some people think that beliefs about the real world are part of grammar, or the cognitive principles that make it hard to identify low-amplitude sounds; i.e. any form of behavior that has to do with "language". Other people have a more mathematical view, where a grammar says for example what the basic elements of a language are and how they can be combined – this is kind of like the theory of physics, which you can't really directly see instantiated in the ordinary world, because it isolates underlying causal principles and describes each in an ideal way that is separate from other ideal descriptions of other ideal principles.

I don't know of any linguists who adamantly deny human free will: whatever these rule things are that underlie this language thing, people free are rules those break to are, perhaps at some communicative cost, or perhaps just freely.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 17, 2020, 10:40:42 PM
Quote
Panini (the older one) never said anything as verbose as "there are no exceptions, only more specific rules". Actually, his treatment of "exceptions" was to state a general rule, vidhi, then state the exception, niyama.
My undergrad semantics professor said this in class, and I've been casually searching for the quotation ever since, but without success, so it's relevant to hear you say this. He might have been phrasing it as a pedagogical tool (perhaps related to using a declarative programming language to represent linguistic rules), but I remember it clearly. I've thought it might instead connect to Kiparsky's "Elsewhere principle", but again I haven't found an explicit statement like that, but just the general ideas. Thank you for your input on this.

Quote
I don't know of any linguists who adamantly deny human free will: whatever these rule things are that underlie this language thing, people free are rules those break to are, perhaps at some communicative cost, or perhaps just freely.
What do you mean by this exactly? I'm not taking a prescriptive position. Are you saying that any generalizations in a grammar can be freely broken by speakers? I suppose that's possible, but then adds another complexity to the analysis. Given the very real consistency with which we speak, however, I'm tempted to say that, allowing for some exceptions like speech errors or (very gradual) change over the lifespan of a speaker, we don't generally break our own rules. If we did, I suppose it would look much more like a very literal interpretation of Exemplar Theory, where generalizations are emergent and ever-changing.

As for the rest, I'll just let you jump into the conversation with the others, but I'll follow along. I agree with what you wrote.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 18, 2020, 11:09:31 AM
> Such claims without evidence are, well, without evidence. Make a perfect
> grammar, and show it to us. Until then, the objection is valid, because in
> practice unusual data can derail an analysis, and it often does. Those obsessed
> with generalizations only tend to work themselves into a corner where they
> can't explain less typical data.
Formal approach does not require me to do that – it, IMO, deals with the proofs of existence, correctness and things like that. And I cannot really make such a grammar indeed. But I probably know which directions are worth to try. It is not that much but I do feel it is enough for Linguist's Lounge > Outside of the box forum branch. I do understand that the list of alternatives in a context-free grammar like
<rule>:= <main rule description>
<rule>:= <exception 1 from the rule>
<rule>:= <exception 2 from the rule>

may be not enough for you so I proposed a more general solution which I believe the final approach indeed because the next level grammars – unrestricted grammars – have nothing to study, they just describe what they see exactly. But it is the whole everything indeed. Unrestricted grammars require a full-featured Turing machine for lexical and syntactical analyses. A full-featured Turing machine is proven to be able to describe everything the human mind can think of. So, the language is the grammar (it is by definition in math and it looks like many linguists are agree and appeal to the existence of Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe; /All mimsy were the borogoves, /And the mome raths outgrabe) and it can be described with a grammar (at least by a totally useless unrestricted one). So, IMO if you want to continue to improve your studying of languages with the formal approach you are either switch to context-sensitive grammars (and become the sixth person in the world who really understands them) or invent something revolutionary different.
Personally I prefer to stay pragmatic and do not try to develop a universal solution (I know it is impossible) but solve the concrete task separately. Again, it is not scientific at all but I believe is a kind of a fun for this section of the forum.

> I'm losing track of what you're claiming. You're jumping back and forth
> between connectionist
You are absolutely right. I know this sin of mine. That was a kind of illustration for the pragmatic approach I use in real applications – instead of switching to the next more complex and expensive level I try to hack the lower and more simple solution to fit for the task it was not originally supposed for. Without an elaboration it was the real “a, well, without evidence” – I will remember the phrase and will use it as the euphemism for the “bullshit”. But anyway, that my passage about using non-grammar helpers was a kind of unrelated indeed, sorry.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 18, 2020, 05:13:06 PM
Quote
It is not that much but I do feel it is enough for Linguist's Lounge > Outside of the box forum branch. I do understand that the list of alternatives in a context-free grammar like...
Sure, and I'm not suggesting that you need to "solve" English just to reply here. But what I am saying is that all of that has been done, and it has consistently been met with problems-- specific problems called "data"!

Quote
I proposed a more general solution which I believe the final approach indeed because the next level grammars – unrestricted grammars – have nothing to study, they just describe what they see exactly. But it is the whole everything indeed. Unrestricted grammars require a full-featured Turing machine for lexical and syntactical analyses.
There are some very interesting studies going on (or really they have been doing on for decades) looking at whether context-sensitive grammars are necessary (one area in particular is where complementizers, like the word "that", happen to agree with the subject in some languages, and things get tricky from there). The point is that this research tends to proceed bottom-up, looking at specific data, although generally in support of the need to have a higher formalism of grammar, rather than proving it does not need to exist (which we can't do).

Quote
, IMO if you want to continue to improve your studying of languages with the formal approach you are either switch to context-sensitive grammars (and become the sixth person in the world who really understands them) or invent something revolutionary different.
Personally I prefer to stay pragmatic and do not try to develop a universal solution (I know it is impossible) but solve the concrete task separately. Again, it is not scientific at all but I believe is a kind of a fun for this section of the forum.
But again this really has been tried! These aren't new, revolutionary ideas. They're tried, and sometimes true ideas, which don't solve everything.

Your making assertions by hypothesis rather than actually showing that your theory works. Yes, it would be hard to show that. And your ideas are valid as ideas. But unless we leave it at that, you need to take the next step because the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that what you're suggesting actually accomplishes something new. It's fine to talk about all of this, and we've done that. But what next? Or was that all you intended?

One of the main frustrations for me in science is the disconnect between top-down theorizing and bottom-up experimentation. But I guess that's the way it needs to be, and we can continue to seek that connection.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 18, 2020, 07:07:06 PM
> It's fine to talk about all of this, and we've done that. But what next?
> Or was that all you intended?
I am afraid yes, that was all. I am not a professional linguist. I has occurred to me once that I could try to solve some of my problems with English phonetics at the expense of highly qualified professional native English speakers. I have looked at several forums and have chosen this very one. Than this topic helped me see if the formal grammar approach is really used in the linguistics world. I can tell you in return that it is used less and less in commercial software industry even for the tasks it suits really well.

> One of the main frustrations for me in science is the disconnect between top-down
> theorizing and bottom-up experimentation. But I guess that's the way it needs to be,
> and we can continue to seek that connection.
I insist on that to continue the development in the “formal” direction the linguists will need a revolutionary new ideas – no one will ever allow you to use the half of the Earth as a computer to model a real language. You, linguists, need to find a way trick the nature and to get more with the less resources. One of the tricks is/are (not sure) the statistical methods (the artificial intelligence (AI), neural networks, etc.). But the real breakthrough will most likely come when they make the quantum computers commercially available. They will incredibly speed up the AI facilities and, which is more important, will allow you to develop and use special “quantum” algorithms to process the data you are talking about (I know nothing about them). This is the nearest future. If you, linguists, fail even with the quantum algorithms you will have to wait for the times when the strings theory enabled computers appear. Those will be the days!
And personally I am happy with the fact I can handle the context-free languages like XML with a finite state machine plus the stack of it’s states. Nobody knows about such a trick any longer.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: panini on May 20, 2020, 08:35:21 AM
Hans would probably know of the appropriate sutras of the Ashtadhyayi: it’s probably an interpretation from a later commentator.

It’s an interesting but kind of untestable question whether speakers can freely break literally any generalizations in grammar, but speakers are certainly capable of breaking many generalizations in grammar. Though I should back up a bit and say that grammars have rules, not generalizations. For example, it is a rule-ish of English that we don’t use SOV word order (asterisk about the correct statement of the rule…), but I am able to the verb at the end of the sentence put. And it’s not just me, pretty much everyone can. This is in contrast to the law of gravity, which is literally inviolable. The asterisk about the rule “we don’t use SOV word order” is that that isn’t really the correct statement of the rule, but tech details are not the point. We are actually able to violate fundamental rules of the grammar in phonetics when we speak. Free will allows us to override certain choices, and talking is a matter of choice. I have nothing to say about Exemplar Theory, so that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m getting at the basic competence / performance distinction, that grammar a.k.a. competence underlies language behavior, but it can be overridden by other factors, including cussedness. Again, grammar is not like physical laws.

When we only consider that which is generated by the grammar and exclude mistakes and willful overriding of the grammar, we still have to face the question of “exceptions” and what it means to be an exception. Linguists generally reject the trashy notion of “exception” promulgated by language teachers, who offer a certain heuristic that fails for some complex reason, and they say “that’s just an exception”. At least in phonology there has (had) been a clear understanding of what an exception is: it’s the case where a form should undergo a rule because it meets the structural description, but it does not. Unfortunately, the sloppy language-teacher notion “too complex for me to explain” filtered into phonology, and then there is OT which doesn’t have rules so what could “exception” even mean?

In the classic view, any segment could in principle bear an annotation “[–rule 36]” meaning that the rule 36 would not apply if a term in the substring is so marked. There was a debate over whether such specifications could be introduced by rule, and it was concluded that they should not be introduced by rule. A half a century later, with everything being in balkanized chaos, the arguments against exception features being introduced by rule are not persuasive, and there’s a recent UCSD dissertation by Hout, about exceptions, which I look forward to reading, to see what new light has been shed.

My scientific frustration has been with the dearth of top-down experimentation and bottom-up theorizing, but I came to realize that arbitrary stipulation is the biggest problem in science, at least as conducted by linguists. The model where you say “I define X as Y; it follows that Q” is completely wrong-headed, instead one should ask “What actual thing are we talking about, and what are its properties?”.

Unfortunately, it looks like our interlocutor has only a passing interest in the fundamental questions of mental models and grammar. I “get it” from the industrial perspective, that it costs a lot to build a principled model of any language and unfortunately contemporary theory is way too speculative and fluid to be of use in building actual rules. Besides, languages which challenge the dominant statistical approach (i.e. 99% of human languages) are too small to worry about. The real concern, I think, is figuring out some interface between pragmatics and phonetics where voice recognition can figure out that “less” doesn’t make any sense in that context, so the word must have been “less”.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 20, 2020, 07:50:08 PM
> It’s an interesting but kind of untestable question whether speakers can
> freely break literally any generalizations in grammar, but speakers are certainly
> capable of breaking many generalizations in grammar.
Well, you (and Daniel) probably may explain exceptions and errors with “breaking the rules” approach but I believe I have just invented (please, do not take “invented” seriously) an exception/error handling mechanism for the formal grammars approach. The real grammars of more or less complex languages do their job in describing languages not very well. Usually practical grammars describe subset or (which is more likely) superset of the language. For example in my message above I have omitted the “to” particle of the infinitive “trick” in the phrase “a way trick the nature”. I bet you have had no problem in extending the formal correct English grammar <something1><infinitive><something2> with incorrect <something1>(<infinitive> | <verb>)<something2> and have parsed the phrase successfully. And in this very approach the notion of “breaking the rule” becomes very clear and obvious: the rules are broken if the correspondent cannot parse the sentence with formal or extended grammar (you may require to take into account the semantics of the sentence if you will). There are probably no formal grammars at all and many extended grammars (supersets of the language) – every person uses its own one (and the ESL teachers are the champions). Let us talk about syntax only because I believe that though you may understand syntactically acceptable by your extended grammar sentence incorrectly such a scrupulousness will be excessive.
This explanation/proposal for the formal grammar math approach only. I do not claim that everything happens this very way in a human mind. It is just an adaptation of the model to handle the errors (not exceptions, I still believe the exceptions are the valid elements of a language and shall be handled by its grammar).
> so what could “exception” even mean?
Personally I think of them as about the rules (alternatives) that are used very rarely. Let us suppose we speak about the formal grammars math approach later on. Because it a statistical approach it may mean something like the least probable outcome that is still fit to the language.
> and there’s a recent UCSD dissertation by Hout, about exceptions, which
> I look forward to reading, to see what new light has been shed.
I have set a reminder in my Outllook to somehow (does the English grammar allows such a treatment of the infinitives? BTW personally my English does allow it) obtain it. I do believe the exceptions are just the rare rules of the language, they are respected by the language and are understood by its speaker and are the norm. I really do not understand so big interest to them from linguists. I do understand a programmer might want to keep the exception in a cheap memory of a non-unified computer system but linguists?..
> My scientific frustration has been with the dearth of top-down experimentation
> and bottom-up theorizing,
May I read it vice versa? I do believe the experimenters think with their hands and try to come from the bottom (local uncoordinated results) to the top (the generalization of the results and explanation of similar problems).
> Unfortunately, it looks like our interlocutor has only a passing interest
> in the fundamental questions of mental models and grammar. I “get it”
> from the industrial perspective, that it costs a lot to build a principled
> model of any language and unfortunately contemporary theory is way
> too speculative and fluid to be of use in building actual rules.
You are absolutely right. I do not have a special education, I do not understand your, linguists’, terminology, I am from parallel (at least not a perpendicular/orthogonal) world. And I do believe you must be lucky I am with you, because you, linguists, do not have books like “A serious linguistics in 21 days for dummies and complete idiots”. You, linguists, are the champions in funding attraction -- nobody knows what you really do but such your applications as speech therapists, schoolteachers, a language as a second language teachers are so vital that you do not feel any necessity to write such books -- you do not need a popularization at all. There are a lot of “couch” analysts (the ones that lie on their couches in front of their TV sets and “study” something) almost on everything in the world: viruses, finance, gas and oil, physics, except for linguistics. I am a kind of the only one that is a linguistics couch analyst.
Please, get me right – I do not complain. I even wish you were less polite and more informative here indeed. I do have fun staying here. And I do my best not to irritate you, who are here, with that. At least too much.
> Besides, languages which challenge the dominant statistical approach
> (i.e. 99% of human languages) are too small to worry about. The real concern,
> I think, is figuring out some interface between pragmatics and phonetics where
> voice recognition can figure out that “less” doesn’t make any sense in that context,
> so the word must have been “less”.
Unbelievable. It is probably too much of Jagermeister but I the feel strong desire to read it the opposite way. So, I will not do it as I have done with top-down/bottom-up approaches.
To the point. A speech recognition (the lexical analysis if you will), syntactic analysis (I cannot figure it out but let it be present) and semantic analysis (a sense in a context, meaning, etc.) are the very different tasks nowadays. I do understand your desire to combine them all in a (the “one” does start with a consonant, does not it?) one step but I still believe it is technically impossible nowadays. I do know about auto-subtitles feature in the YouTube videos and it does not use (at least) the semantics at all. (Please, do not tell anybody but it is, probably, much better in English lexical analysis (phonetics) than I am).
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 20, 2020, 08:45:03 PM
Thanks for the detailed reply, panini!
Quote
...I’m getting at the basic competence / performance distinction, that grammar a.k.a. competence underlies language behavior, but it can be overridden by other factors, including cussedness. Again, grammar is not like physical laws.
When we only consider that which is generated by the grammar and exclude mistakes and willful overriding of the grammar, we still have to face the question of “exceptions” and what it means to be an exception. ...
So then what of grammaticality? Is it flexible? Can we separate out speech errors from truly grammatical sentences? Are there things we say that are not narrowly grammatical yet still used, effectively and consistently? Grammaticality illusions, for example (yes, rarely used, more just oddly perceived, but I talk about the possibility and some possible examples of used and acceptable grammaticality illusions in my paper linked earlier).

Quote
My scientific frustration has been with the dearth of top-down experimentation and bottom-up theorizing, but I came to realize that arbitrary stipulation is the biggest problem in science, at least as conducted by linguists. The model where you say “I define X as Y; it follows that Q” is completely wrong-headed, instead one should ask “What actual thing are we talking about, and what are its properties?”.
Interesting perspective, especially the first point. I generally take that as a given, although not neessarily unquestionable. I've always enjoyed experimental work (psycholinguistics, etc.), but found it too far removed from the big questions (I'd really like to see more research about, for example, the psychological reality of constituency, something beyond the basics that we teach students in an intro to syntax class, but really getting into the big unanswered questions), and then the big idea top-down theories always seem to fall flat, at least to my ears, when they make predictions that quite easily can be shown to be false if we just look at enough diverse data.

--
Rock100:
Quote
And I do believe you must be lucky I am with you, because you, linguists, do not have books like “A serious linguistics in 21 days for dummies and complete idiots”. You, linguists, are the champions in funding attraction -- nobody knows what you really do but such your applications as speech therapists, schoolteachers, a language as a second language teachers are so vital that you do not feel any necessity to write such books -- you do not need a popularization at all. There are a lot of “couch” analysts (the ones that lie on their couches in front of their TV sets and “study” something) almost on everything in the world: viruses, finance, gas and oil, physics, except for linguistics. I am a kind of the only one that is a linguistics couch analyst.
There are a few issues in this, probably the most important that linguists aren't just of a single type. There are so many people who study language in so many ways and from so many different perspectives, including with just about every methodology imaginable. Linguistics isn't really a specific field, but more like the intersection of about 20 inter-disciplinary studies, located somewhere between psychology, sociology, biology, physics, computer science, mathematics, philosophy and humanities. My point is simply that although many linguists may approach things a certain way, and I do think that quite often there is a particular perspective linguists adopt from having looked at language in such detail (sometimes with positive consequences like being open minded to the many cultures around the world!), but in terms of theoretical insight and new ideas, there's really very little that linguists haven't considered, or that someone hasn't suggested to linguists (it's always interesting to witness or be part of a conversation between a linguist and an engineer for example!!).

Additionally, it's worth asking what different linguists (or non-linguists) actually want to answer about language, or what they want to accomplish. The last few posts here have revealed different interests in those replying, which is of course fine, but must also be considered in the points we're each making.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Rock100 on May 21, 2020, 05:12:27 AM
I would like to make an addition – the part I have somehow lost yesterday. But this is even better because there was at least one fault in my assumptions I see now (and can fix).
> For example, it is a rule-ish of English that we don’t use SOV word order
> (asterisk about the correct statement of the rule…), but I am able to the
> verb at the end of the sentence put. And it’s not just me, pretty much everyone
> can. This is in contrast to the law of gravity, which is literally inviolable.
I knew the trick with “Arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit pobelrm. Tihs is buseace the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.” but I believe your example is much more interesting (at least for me) because it is formal grammar related. At least I can provide the explanation from the formal grammar theory point of view.
I believe that a speaker of English can handle SOV grammar the two following ways:
1. He can understand SOV grammar directly (one will need a lot of practice in it I do not think it would be possible from scratch especially for a native speaker).
2. He will use a translating grammar. Here is the example of such a grammar. I will place the actions in square brackets [do something]
<sentence>:=<s>[emit s]<o>[push o]<v>[emit v, pop]
<s>:=<noun>
<o>:=<noun>
<noun>:= elephant | home
<v>:= goes

Given the sentence “elephant home goes” we get “elephant” (push “home” on stack) “goes” “home” (popped out from stack).
I believe that personally I have started parsing your example with a kind of a translating grammar myself. But as far as you, I believe erroneously, split the infinitive it required me several additional passes to parse the example. I am not sure what really happed – whether I found the alternative grammar for <infinitive><object> as to<object><verb> or taught myself understanding of to<object><verb> grammar directly. But I bet that for me if you made your example as “I am able the verb at the end of the sentence to put” would be much easier just to make use of the translating grammar and I would not need additional passes to teach myself a new grammar.
Yesterday I believed there was a third way handling SOV through an intermediate representation SOV--> intermediate representation --> generation of the new sentence with SVO grammar from the intermediate representation. But today I realized that the ability to build an intermediate representation means that the initial SOV sentence have been already parsed correctly.

> There are so many people who study language in so many ways and from
> so many different perspectives <and so on>
Your points are absolutely valid. The only thing I can argue/extend is that with their bottom-up approach and zillions of combinations of different aspects in different languages linguists still have the luxury to remain in their own domain of research. For example, it is extremely hard to invent something new even in physics and poor physicists have to choose adjacent areas for their dissertations (like physics/chemistry (it became hard nowadays too), physics/sociology, physics/gender science) to minimize the risks to fail. I believe the linguists can just choose a “Multisubjective sentences in modern English” and vu a la.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 21, 2020, 11:38:35 AM
Quote
The only thing I can argue/extend is that with their bottom-up approach and zillions of combinations of different aspects in different languages...
But again, it's important to be clear: some linguists are top-down theorists, sometimes based on data from a variety of languages, other times just looking at a single language, maybe English. Chomsky, for example, very rarely publishes examples from languages other than English (although when he rarely does so, he is capable and competent), in part because his philosophy is that in essence all languages are basically the same thing just with different pronunciations, and because he's interested in that underlying similarity, he thinks we can study it almost exclusively by looking at English, or any other language as a substitute. Many linguists disagree with that approach, and even he looks at other languages to support his ideas (rarely, as I said, although perhaps more often in his informal study than in what makes a final draft for publication).

Quote
...bottom-up approach and zillions of combinations of different aspects in different languages linguists still have the luxury to remain in their own domain of research.
To an extent, yes, this is a somewhat representative characterization of the field. Something else interesting is that older research is still relevant: a description of a language from the 50 years ago can still be just as valuable (if written well) as a current publication. And some much older publications, like from the 1800s, can still be valuable, depending on several factors and the type of research you're working on.

Quote
For example, it is extremely hard to invent something new even in physics and poor physicists have to choose adjacent areas for their dissertations (like physics/chemistry (it became hard nowadays too), physics/sociology, physics/gender science) to minimize the risks to fail. I believe the linguists can just choose a “Multisubjective sentences in modern English” and vu a la.
Yes, linguists can sometimes choose just about any topic to work on, but whether it makes a bigger impact in the field is a different question. A broader problem isn't this flexibility, but that there is no clearly best theory. Chomsky was interviewed and asked about the state of Linguistics (a few decades ago) and described it as pre-Gallilean. And he has a very strong opinion about the right way to approach the field, but there are such strong varying opinions about theories, there's been relatively little progress in settling any differences between them, or, as I think makes more sense, finding ways to unite the theories to explain language more generally. There have been "wars" about theories over the decades, and no one theory came out as the winner. At certain universities (and to some degree countries, or parts of countries, etc.), yes, but there are other theories out there somewhere else, all still actively researched with extensive publications. Some differ a lot (Generativism vs. Construction Grammar), while others are just slightly different shades of the same color of theory, and if you read that research carefully you'll see just how passionately those theoreticians disagree with each other too.

But all of that really is a reason to recognize that linguistics isn't lacking in new ideas or possible directions, but instead lacking in agreement. What are we trying to do and why? And how? Again, that's probably why the bottom-up approach is more popular. According to some, the broadest top-down theories also don't produce very interesting answers: Chomsky says that language is basically "Merge", an operation combining (words or phrases) A+B to produce a larger phrase "AB", and that's it; or others might say language is just a bunch of statistics. If either of those answers is correct, there's not much left to study at the broad theoretical level. Of course there are still many, many connections to be drawn, like how processing relates to all of this.

In the end, I'm not really sure what you're suggesting.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: poemworld on May 21, 2020, 09:15:45 PM
My two centavos worth, from Charles Sanders Peirce, bless his soul.
There are three general categories: case, rule, and result. Case is what is. Rule is a general tendency of change. Result is an outcome. Three logics can be made of these categories:
deduction: case + rule = result
induction: case + result = rule
abduction or retroduction: result + rule = case

This provides a context for rule and rules, without which one is chasing one's tail as a rule.
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: panini on May 22, 2020, 09:37:27 AM
TLDR;

I think grammaticality is very rigid: a form is, or it isn’t. So we can distinguish grammatical sentences from ungrammatical ones if we “know the grammar”. Wherein lies the difficulty. I do not put any stock in ungrammatical utterances that are effective (decipherable), but “consistently” is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. W.r.t. raw data, I attribute more of the facts about data to either performance or crypto-codeswitching (“I can get that in my dialect”) than most theoreticians do, I think. I personally know that in my original dialect, “needs washed” is word salad, but I’ve been exposed to it enough times over the decades that I don’t flinch, and occasionally utter it. When people repeatedly say things that grammatical theories don’t countenance, I am inclined say that there is an under-reported dialect feature that needs reporting. Before engaging in a line of research to broaden what syntax should allow, I would first ask for some discussion of the methodology of deciding that a fact pattern is due to competence versus performance.

For example, templates controlling the order of prenominal adjectives are, IMO, based on stylistic acceptability judgments and not about something in grammar. There are those who would put that in grammar. Is there any empirical or logical basis for deciding between these positions, and what would that basis say about English noun-determiner order, which I would say is in grammar. There is an infamous problem stemming from Chomsky’s “Remarks on nominalization” that sentences like “Bob’s difficulty to understand makes him a bad teacher”, meaning “The dificulty that one would have in understanding Bob is what makes him a bad teacher”. Many syntacticians including Chomsky declare raising out of a nominalized tough-clause to be ungrammatical, but I and myriad other linguists (usually not syntacticians) find this construction perfectly fine (there’s a subset of speakers where the raised NP is interpreted as lower subject which I totally don’t get, but it’s a fact). Chomsky has a dismissive footnote to the effect that such people are unaware of a property of their grammar that their grammar doesn’t produce this output, whereas I would say that tough-nominalization deniers are unaware of a property of the English language that this is grammatical in some or all dialects, and just not acceptable to some. This obviously raises the question, how do you know what the grammar actually produces. Perhaps that is why I am a phonologist and field worker. When I do syntax, it’s not English or researcher-introspective and it’s about things of the kind of clarity in determiner-noun order in English.

But this murkiness about what sentences are actually generated by the grammar does not call into serious question the existence of gramar and the distinction between competence and performance. I occasionally propose that by around 1972, we had solved all of English syntax, and have spent the last 50 years trying to tweak the formal model.

I should clarify that I have very little interest in plug-and-chug laboratory approaches to language, because the logical connections to theory are usually too weak for the results to be palatable. The toy-language phonology experiment paradigm is an exemplar of what I consider to be wasted effort. When I advocate bottom-up theorizing, I mean, what are the most fundamental and simple existential claims about language that are best-justified, and then what propositions might we consider adding? For example, in phonology, the existence of segments is one of those well-established claims about phonology that can’t be reasonably denied. Alas, anything can technically be denied, but usually if anyone denies the segment, they are really denying a particular proposition about segments. I also think that features are a fact, that segments are a compositional function of features, so features are existentially more atomic. The bottom-up theorizing approach starts with that which is fundamental w.r.t. what we know, and discovers ontological fundamentals in the course of developing a theory of the epistemological fundamentals.

Top-down experimentation, then, is those empirical methods that focus on well-established theoretical propositions, discerns under-appreciated predictions, and then tests them. Repeatedly. I think we’re doing reasonably well with low-level experiments to test low-level claims, like the duration of long versus short consonants in some language, we’re just not doing well at all in devising experiments that test simple claims like the one lurking in phonology for over a half cantury that all “phonetic detail” can be reduced to manipulating scalar values for features on segments (i.e. “[3round]”).

The proposal for a “translating grammar” needs a bit of terminological translating, I would say. Mainly, what’s needed is a change from “grammar” to “?strategy”. Linguists are generally very soft on prescriptive issues: we resolutely refuse to say that any words mean specific things, we always soft-pedal the issue by saying “it depends on how you define X”. That’s not a technical result of linguistic research, it’s a particular philosophical perspective. I hate metaphor in science, because it makes it so much harder to figure out if we’ve learned anything (since we don’t know if a person is using “feature” in an established technical sense or in some extended metaphorical sense). So I would not call that set of cognitive operations which allow English speakers to parse “elephant home goes” a grammar, but I also have a more pointed reason for not doing so, namely that I want to figure out in what way those strategies differ from what is in a grammar. In similar fashion, I hate this idea of the grammar of music, but I totally agree with the goal of finding the common features of music vs. language and also discerning in what ways they are different.

I officially propose that linguistics undertake a line of research into word-salad parsing. The basic axiom is that there is a grammar of English that does what linguists think a syntax does, and then people have a cognitive ability to perform and comprehend perversions of what an I-grammar produces. What is the theory of that cognitive ability? Obviously, we need at least two theories (I hope that’s obvious) and even more obviously, we need one theory of that ability. Rock100 might flesh out his theory so that we could see how it generally works (as salad-to-English filter), and I might posit a competing set of computations. Then we can discuss which account is better, as a model of what the mind does. If we can agree that the goal is to model the actions of the mind, and not to find a certain kind of computer program that maps string to string. (If it’s not obvious, the reason for doing this is to better distinguish competence from performance, by fleshing out the theory of performance).




Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: Daniel on May 22, 2020, 09:51:37 AM
Quote
There is an infamous problem stemming from Chomsky’s “Remarks on nominalization” that sentences like “Bob’s difficulty to understand makes him a bad teacher”, meaning “The dificulty that one would have in understanding Bob is what makes him a bad teacher”. Many syntacticians including Chomsky declare raising out of a nominalized tough-clause to be ungrammatical, but I and myriad other linguists (usually not syntacticians) find this construction perfectly fine (there’s a subset of speakers where the raised NP is interpreted as lower subject which I totally don’t get, but it’s a fact). Chomsky has a dismissive footnote to the effect that such people are unaware of a property of their grammar that their grammar doesn’t produce this output, whereas I would say that tough-nominalization deniers are unaware of a property of the English language that this is grammatical in some or all dialects, and just not acceptable to some. This obviously raises the question, how do you know what the grammar actually produces. Perhaps that is why I am a phonologist and field worker.
Funny enough, I cited that particular argument of Chomsky's for that reason in my article linked in an earlier post. That's exactly what I have in mind in asking this question (so the happenstance that you did think of exactly the same point suggests you're a bit of a syntactician after all). I actually agree with you, that Chomsky's argument there didn't really make sense empirically. But I still do wonder about the possibility for an odd quirk of a grammar that some sentence might be acceptable (=utterable, not just comprehensible), and yet not grammatical (at least in some technical sense). Why or why not?

Quote
When I do syntax, it’s not English or researcher-introspective and it’s about things of the kind of clarity in determiner-noun order in English.
And that applies to most theoretical syntax, of the Chomsky type. I'm drawn to these more troublesome cases, though, because they really do seem to poke holes in the generalizations and thereby the theories overall.

Quote
But this murkiness about what sentences are actually generated by the grammar does not call into serious question the existence of gramar and the distinction between competence and performance.
Indeed.
Quote
I occasionally propose that by around 1972, we had solved all of English syntax, and have spent the last 50 years trying to tweak the formal model.
Haha, that's one way of looking at it!

Quote
I officially propose that linguistics undertake a line of research into word-salad parsing. The basic axiom is that there is a grammar of English that does what linguists think a syntax does, and then people have a cognitive ability to perform and comprehend perversions of what an I-grammar produces. What is the theory of that cognitive ability? Obviously, we need at least two theories (I hope that’s obvious) and even more obviously, we need one theory of that ability.
I love that question. I don't always agree with Chomsky, but let's for the sake of argument take his word as fact: there's a strict distinction between Competence and Performance, and he has all but solved Competence. OK. So why hasn't anyone figured out Performance? I think it's a harder problem, actually. And while psycholinguists are making a lot of interesting progress from their side of things, it just so rarely connects with anything in a syntax textbook you can't help but wonder :)
Title: Re: Is language really rule-based?/ "Do you miss not having a job?"(2014)*revisited*
Post by: waive15 on October 10, 2020, 06:38:05 AM
Hi,


"Maybe language really is logical, once we get the right system of logic." (jkpate, 2014)


---

The Language of Logic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpMfZvbmO0c

---

Elephant Principle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA42ojvSJs0

---


Thank you.