Pinker chapter 4

Pinker chapter 4 - Pinker Language Instinct Chapter 4 How...

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Unformatted text preview: Pinker: Language Instinct Chapter 4: How Language (Grammar) Works Chapter Dr. Swathi Vanniarajan Ling 161: Psycholinguistics Major points made in this chapter Major Language is a discrete combinatorial system. Language as a system is unique and it cannot be captured by the currently existing artificial intelligence programs. There are certain properties of language that are standardized so that both learning of it and representing it in human brain are possible. Major points made in this chapter Major Language and cognition are independent of each other ­ cognition is more of meaning and has nothing to do with grammar. the grammatical code is autonomous from cognition.. Major points made in this chapter Major “A grammar specifies how words may combine to express meanings; that specification is independent of the particular meanings we typically convey or expect others to convey to us.” Ungrammaticality is a gut feeling that something is wrong with the structure of the sentence but syntax and meaningfulness (sense) are independent of each other Major points made in this chapter Major Language cannot be captured by word­ chain device systems with transitional probabilities as some psychologists believe. They are amnesiac and also overload human memory. Artificial intelligence is not a match for human intelligence. Major points made in this chapter Major Ambiguities arise for various reasons. Two major reasons are: wrong construction of phrase structures, 2. Confusion between modifiers and role players. Major points made in this chapter Major X­bar principle is innate and accounts for why children are able to learn language with exposure to little data. Major points made in this chapter Major Language is standardized memory ­ the emphasis is on standardized There is an arbitrary pairing of a sound with meaning (de Saussure) ­ an accepted conventional pairing (there is no method in this madness and the process is challenging to the ingenuity and is unreliable also. (There is no ham in hamburger) Major points made in this chapter Major Language makes use of infinite use of finite rules and its lexicon ­ that code or set of rules is called generative grammar and must not be confused with pedagogical or stylistic grammars. Language is a discrete combinatorial system ­ a finite number of discrete elements (in this case, words) are sampled, combined, and permuted to create larger structures with properties that are quite distinct from those of their elements (p.84) ­ similar to the way the genetic codes in DNA work but different from the blending systems such as geology, paint mixing or cooking, etc. ­ Major points made in this chapter Major A person is capable of generating 1020 number of sentences (hundred million trillion ­ one followed by 20 zeroes) ­ this means that language cannot be learnt by imitation ­ “If a speaker is interrupted at a random point in a sentence, there are on average about 10 different words that could be inserted at that point to continue the sentence in a grammatical and meaningful way” (p.85). Major points made in this chapter Major “The way language works, then, is that each person’s brain contains a lexicon of words and the concepts they stand for (a mental dictionary) and a set of rules that combine the words to convey relationships among concepts (a mental grammar)” (p.85). Major points made in this chapter Major Ungrammatical but makes sense: this sentence no verb ­ this sentence has contains two verbs ­ machines cannot interpretif the sentences are not grammatical ­ they work by patterns (human pattern interpretation is based on fuzzy logic) ­ grammatical but makes no sense ­ colorless green ideas wish to date Helen of Sleeping Dreams atrociously (improbable word sequences can be grammatical) Major points made in this chapter Major Meaning is related to cognition but syntax is not. If language and thinking are inseparable, then there will not be ambiguity in our communication. Major points made in this chapter Major Word chain systems are the simplest of the combinatorial systems (article adjective noun verb noun adverb). Some psychologists think that language is word­chain systems with transitional probabilities ­ this is similar to stimulus­response theory (he is taking a direct hit at connectionists and their probabilistic models ­ in their models, probabilities are defined in terms of statistical frequency and strength). Major points made in this chapter Major A word chain system is amnesiac, remembering only which word list it has chosen from, nothing earlier. ­ they do not have long distance dependency rules and restrictions ­ they are insensitive to other words, even for the preceding and the following words. The word chain device systems are over powerful mechanisms ­ they cause even comprehension problems and just not the production problems alone ­ Major points made in this chapter Major Dependency grammar cannot be handled by word­chain device systems Word chain systems, furthermore, overload human memory ...
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