Author Topic: Expérience en grammaticalité  (Read 15742 times)

brebis noire

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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2007, 10:56:48 AM »
Il a mangé du gâteau, et je n'en ai pas mangé.
Or, Il a mangé du gâteau, mais pas moi. (which could also mean he didn't eat me, but that doesn't make any logical sense so we flush that.)

You can ellipse the "gâteau" but not the verb. At least, I don't think so.

I'm a practical linguist, not a theoretical one, so don't ask me to explain anything.  :P

Mandos, I'll see what I can do for refs, but my friend was doing very specific research on the Vaudois dialect of French, and everytime we talked about Chomsky she expressed her admiration of his political views but definitely not his linguistic research. Dépassé, she says.

skdadl

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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2007, 11:12:11 AM »
Quote from: Mandos
Well, "avoir" is used very similarly to "have" in English.  However, French has another interfering factor in that this can't work with any auxiliary, not just "avoir".  



But in the sentence you gave us, English uses the auxiliary in only one clause, whereas the French uses "avoir" in both clauses but for different purposes -- in the second, it is not an auxiliary. That was my wee point.

The English sentence never uses "have" in its other sense.

Mandos

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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2007, 11:12:25 AM »
Yes, both of you have mentioned the salient fact about French.  And skdadl came up by her own clever self with the right generalization :)  It's about tense.  French has "TP-ellipsis", not "VP-ellipsis".  TP stands for "tense phrase" and VP stands for "verb phrase". The tense-phrase is what contains the tense-bearing auxiliary if one exists.  French requires deletion of the entire tense-bearing phrase.  ("tense" being a stand-in term for a large family of markers.)

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Mandos, I'll see what I can do for refs, but my friend was doing very specific research on the Vaudois dialect of French, and everytime we talked about Chomsky she expressed her admiration of his political views but definitely not his linguistic research. Dépassé, she says.


So this is a common opinion in some quarters, and it varies in scope from rejection of the very concept of universal grammar to merely rejecting the present formalization of the concept that he supports.  But if you're going to have any sort of plausible biological/psychological grounding for language as a characteristic of humans, I really haven't seen a convincing reason to abandon Chomsky's overall trajectory for the past few decades.

brebis noire

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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2007, 11:30:38 AM »
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So this is a common opinion in some quarters, and it varies in scope from rejection of the very concept of universal grammar to merely rejecting the present formalization of the concept that he supports.  But if you're going to have any sort of plausible biological/psychological grounding for language as a characteristic of humans, I really haven't seen a convincing reason to abandon Chomsky's overall trajectory for the past few decades.


Actually, I quite reject the notion that language is a characteristic of humans only. Maybe in terms of complexity and of course the written aspect, but animals have language as well. I could even reproduce for you a short guide to feline phonetics.

Also, I recently acquired 2 guinea pigs, and I can definitely tell you that these creatures have language. Apparently, they even use it in groups settings to avoid recourse to physical aggression and conflict.  :)

I cannot even begin to refute or even explain universal grammar myself. But I have listened to the arguments against and I tend to agree with them in a vague, overall way. (Keeping in mind that linguistic studies are all about: detail. Copious, overwhelming amounts of it.)

skdadl

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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2007, 11:47:19 AM »
I agree that animals have language, and not only among themselves.

Cats talk to cats; cats also talk to other beings; and there is no question in my mind that cats understand some human language -- not just body language, either. They pick up words. They know their own names; they know the other cats' names (and get jealous when I use the other cats' names). They learn many commands and endearments and trigger questions in English -- when that matters to them.

They only learn what matters to them, of course. Unlike us. We clutter our heads. They are much more practical.

Mandos

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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2007, 11:49:19 AM »
So there is a terminological confusion here.  A lot of people confuse "language" and "communication", or rather that is the nontechnical use of the terminology.  Clearly, many animals have communication strategies.  And these are also "languages" in a formal sense often as well.  But they're qualitatively different from human language.  Their mathematical characterizations are fundamentally different.

Mandos

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« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2007, 11:53:02 AM »
I see part of the confusion in the desire to give a judgement of "logicalness" for some of the example sentences I provided.  You can communicate the same things that you communicate in human languages using a different code.  In fact, probably a more communicatively-efficient code than what we observe in human languages.  But we don't have that different code.  So the analysis of language is different from the analysis of communication, and the analysis of the structure of language is different from the analysis of "what makes sense."

skdadl

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« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2007, 11:53:12 AM »
Mandos, look at this sentence:

Does mama have a Minnie ...  who would liiiiike ...

Now, Mandos, given how long it takes to get that far in the sentence (although it's true I now don't usually have to finish it, because she knows what's coming and is already off to the kitchen), don't you think that's more than a "communication strategy"? I certainly do.

She knows what a question is. And she knows what particular questions mean. That one especially.

brebis noire

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« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2007, 11:53:28 AM »
I'm not confused. I mean language, not communication.
Some people, however, seem to be confusing the concepts of "language" and "mathematics".  :wink:

Mandos

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« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2007, 11:58:01 AM »
Quote
Now, Mandos, given how long it takes to get that far in the sentence (although it's true I now don't usually have to finish it, because she knows what's coming and is already off to the kitchen), don't you think that's more than a "communication strategy"? I certainly do.

She knows what a question is. And she knows what particular questions mean. That one especially.

Yes, because she's picking out a certain component of the signal that has repeatedly had the character of a question.  A lot of things that we communicate in language, well, the information can be picked out in cues that do not require our words.

Quote
I'm not confused. I mean language, not communication.
Some people, however, seem to be confusing the concepts of "language" and "mathematics".


I regret to inform you that "language" is, in fact, ultimately a mathematical concept.  When you talk about whether something (an utterance, for example) belonging to a set, even something *kinda* belonging to a set, you are talking math.  Of course, it is not ONLY a mathematical concept, but you can't *ignore* the mathematical characterization.

A very large chunk of human language can be taken care of by "Markovian" processes that can easily explain the reaction of skdadl's cat.  But there are some phenomena that require a much more sophisticated mathematics.

brebis noire

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« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2007, 12:03:36 PM »
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I regret to inform you that "language" is, in fact, ultimately a mathematical concept.  When you talk about whether something (an utterance, for example) belonging to a set, even something *kinda* belonging to a set, you are talking math.  Of course, it is not ONLY a mathematical concept, but you can't *ignore* the mathematical characterization.


Maybe in your world, but not in mine.

My world includes the set of negative infinity to infinity.  :wink:

Mandos

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« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2007, 12:17:05 PM »
Yes, but it also necessarily contains subsets, some of which are indeed infinite subsets.  In fact, human language is one such infinite subset.  That doesn't mean that it is *unrestricted*.  It's a restricted infinity.  Many animal languages (birdsong, for instance) also have restricted infinity.  But there are different kinds of restricted infinities.  Some infinities are more infinite than others.  "In the barnyard of infinity, all are infinite, but some are more infinite than others."

brebis noire

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« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2007, 12:47:43 PM »
Jeezus Mandos, I get really tetchy when I can't have the final word.

Restricted infinity is an oxymoron.  :)

Mandos

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« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2007, 12:59:53 PM »
There are fewer whole numbers than there are numbers.  

I too am obsessive about the last word.   :P

brebis noire

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« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2007, 01:13:38 PM »
I will grant that your obsessiveness for having the last word is less restricted than mine, so take.

 

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