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Re: [ontolog-forum] language ambiguity

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rob Freeman" <lists@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2008 11:48:20 +0800
Message-id: <7616afbc0802131948m496b759ep87a29cf396fa46e4@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
On Feb 14, 2008 11:26 AM, John F. Sowa <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Instead of the word 'primitive', I would use a word like 'pattern'
> or 'schema', which is used to recognize sensory configurations and
> to build mental models.  But I believe that any such pattern could
> be reanalyzed at a lower level or be replaced by a different pattern
> that might be more useful.  Therefore, it wouldn't really be a
> 'primitive' in the sense of a fixed and frozen, unanalyzable unit.    (01)

Calling it a "pattern" (less so a "schema") suits me better.
Particularly if you believe they can be reanalyzed. But I doubt you
will come with me in the thesis that these "patterns" can be
reanalyzed as, or at least modeled by, the complexity of patterns you
find among words. Take a text, look for patterns across it, and I
think you get these same "cognitive" patterns.    (02)

If words were never ambiguous the patterns would reduce to rules. But
that would reduce the power of language to one or other logic, with
all the drawbacks that entails. Making the words ambiguous (their
associations unpredictable) liberates you to find more patterns and
makes language more powerful/compact, "bigger than itself", even (but
cognitively analyzable.)    (03)

>  > Interesting to hear you were right in there at the "Language Wars".
>  > I enjoyed reading some essays by Frank Newmeyer on that period.
> Since I am basically a mathematician, I was never in the linguistic
> "in group".  However, I did attend the LSA (Linguistic Society of
> America) Summer Institute in 1969.  One memorable event was an
> evening talk by George Lakoff in a large auditorium.  During the
> question period, Ray Jackendoff began asking repeated questions,
> and it degenerated into a shouting match with Ray running down
> the aisle.
> I don't remember anything about the subject matter or the points
> they were arguing about, but the entertainment was thoroughly
> enjoyed by all.    (04)

I guess there's no fighting human nature. Sometimes you wonder if
there couldn't be a better way, though.    (05)

-Rob    (06)

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