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misc responses to And #2

>From: ucleaar <ucleaar%ucl.ac.uk@UKACRL.BITNET>
>Subject:      Re: misc. responses to And
>> Presumably most recursion and repetition in natlangs has limits,
>Not in any interesting sense.
>> for every such grammatical structure you can probably generate some
>> unacceptable nonsense.
>I've not usually found this to happen. And if it does happen, then it
>means there's something wrong with the grammar.

I again cite center embedding as a well-known example both of the limits
of recursion and of formal grammatical structures.

>Most of the problems I'm aware of are due to dissimilar lexemes
>belonging to the same selmao.  For example, {zio} is in KOhA, but not
>every KOhA can meaningfully be replaced by a {zio}.

I'm not sure why not. zi'o represents elimination of a place.  I assume
that if you eliminated ALL the places you would have nothing meaningful
left in a predicate, but that is a philosophical issue, not a linguistic

Besides, zi'o is in the language only because certain other people
insisted on it.  Hummpf.

>> 1. Jabberwocky
>Jabberwocky is either ungrammatical or has defined semantics.

I guess it is ungrammatical then, assuming that "defined semantics"
means anything.  The moment you put a nonsense word, even of firmly
defined syntax, into a language, and do not define its semantics, you
cannot determine the semantics of the whole.

>> 2. Curious green ideas sleep furiously.
>Is perfectly grammatical, and has defined and agreed on semantics.

It has hypothetical semantics based on some metaphorical interpretations
of the individual terms.  I can probably come up with similar
metaphorical interpretations for the most nonsensical Lojban, but that
does not make the semantics "defined and agreed upon", because you might
come up with a different metaphorical interpretation than I do.

>> 3. The US tax code
>I haven't read it, but I expect it is perfectly grammatical, and has
>defined and relatively agreed on semantics.

Been a lot of court cases to prove you wrong.

>> Let me know when we agree on the semantics of any of these, and the
>> semantics of each is to some considerable extent undefined (especially
>> the tax code %^), yet they are considered grammatical.
>I should have downplayed your "agreed-on", because this is actually
>irrelevant to the definition of grammaticality, although it is of
>course vital to successful communication.

If it cannot be agreed upon, then you have to treat the individual
interpretations as idiolects and not as a language.  Every idiolect has
some variations from the standard grammar of the language.  S presumably
the standard grammar MUST be that portion of the grammar that is agreed
upon by most or all speakers.  Or you can define it to include the
combined grammar of ALL idiolects, in which case it is hard to say what
is ungrammatical without checking with all speakers to make sure none
has an interpretation.

And I guess I left out one other case "Time flies like an arrow" and
other such demonstrably ambiguous sentences do not have a defined
SYNTAX, much less semantics, because you need to kow the context to
determine which semantics holds.

>Singularities could be selbri, but that would be pointless.

I cite munje, and the monotheistic version of jegvo.  And at one time
you argued that all names should be selbri if I recall.

>> >My objection to {nu} is that really the event is an argument of the
>> >bridi, so {jai fau broda} is truer to the meaning.
>> If the event is an argument of the bridi that is reflected in the event
>> I see infinite recursion.
>I don't understand.

If the "1-place" bridi "da broda" has an implied x2 event place which we
night represent as "lenu da broda" for convenience, then that implied
form of the bridi is "da broda lenu [da broda]", and that in turn has
the implied form "da broda lenu (da broda lenu [da broda])" ad nauseum.

>> >So my objections are not only that most members of NU are not useful,
>> >but also that only {sio} really warrants the syntax of NU (i.e. selbri
>> >containing bridi).
>> >> (As an aside, I don't think that something like {mi nelci le ka do melbi}
>> >> makes any sense. It should be {mi nelci le nu do melbi}.
>> >I agree.
>> Then "nu" is useful?
>No, I meant the x2 of {nelci} shd be a situation rather than a property.
>I didn't mean that to refer to a situation we shd use {nu}.

So you are defining a new abstraction which might or might not be
equivalent to what we call "nu" and refusing to label it "nu".

>> The fact that the number of places in gismu that are abstractions
>> alone shows how useful it is to recognize multiple levels of
>> abstraction in analyzing semantics.
>I don't understand. Can you rephrase, please?

We use lots of lenu clauses in actual Lojban, therefore they are useful.
Argument by pragmatics (as are most Lojban decisions).

>> I like "nu" itself simply for the the capability of bundling up an
>> occurance of a bridi relationship as a semantic unit,
>Yes, it is commonly misused that way.

Since fasnu - the defining predicate of "nu", refers to "occurance",
better to say that it is DEFINED that way.

>> and the subcategories allow me even to define a substructural way of
>> looking at that occurance.
>{lo pruce jai fau broda} would do just as well, and would have a
>proper syntax-semantics match.

The use of jai IMPLIES the existence of an abstraction by
transformation.  Provide the explicit transform, please, without using
any abstractors.

>There is a fair bit that is mind-expanding in Lojban, but those 4
>somewhat outdated aktionsart distinctions don't expand my mind. The
>more basic properties (dynamicity, extent/duration and telicity, which
>itself is a temporal manifestation of bounding in general) that underlie
>this taxonomy are most certainly reflected extensively in natlangs.

You would have to clarify - maybe we need words for them %^)

Seriously, if they are reflected clearly in natual language, you should
be able to give me, say for some common English sentences, examples of
varying each of the 3 parameters and how they are reflected in changes
to the sentence.

>> >> {za'i}, {zu'a}, {mu'e} and {pu'u} are all kinds of {nu}.
>> >Someone had been reading linguistics textbooks when these were
>> >added, and gave them too much weight.
>> Actually, I hadn't read ANY linguistics textbooks when I added them.
>I'm skeptical that you dreamt them up purely by thinking about situation

pc was explaining "nu" on the phone one day, and got into these types of
"events", and I came back a couple days later saying I thought it might
be useful to embed the distinctions in the language, "nu" already having
proven so useful, leaving "nu" as the non-specific general case.  So pc
read the textbooks, and I dreamed up the Lojban application %^)

[Actually, I just got inspired to look in the archives, and it was in a
letter to me from pc, not a phone call, which I annotated.  So I have
documentation of EXACTLY when and how those came into the language.  See
a separate post forthcoming.]

>> But the event/achievement/state and processes of running a race are
>> all to my mind quite different concepts.
>Absolutely they are. Running a race, as I understand the concept, is
>a process. So to describe it as an activity, achievement or state is
>to create a new category, different from normal race running.

No, it is just a different way of looking at the same race.  The athlete
in a marathon on the point of exhaustion thinks of little more than
continuing to put one foot in front of the other in a running pace - for
him the race has become for the nonce a pure activity.  One can usefully
look at the whole race as such an activity as well.  That is certainly
what I did when I was running laps around the track in physical
education classes at school, even when it was nominally a race (since I
always finished last, the other abstractions of the race were not too
useful to me.

>> But the more important question is whether every grammatical
>> statement asserts a well-defined relationship.  I think And
>> was arguing that this was the case.
>> But I'm not sure I really understand And's argument.  I'd like
>> to see some explicit examples of meaningless statements using PA.
>> I'd also like to see a proposal for the substructure of PA, preferably
>> one that doesn't rule out any current texts.
>Jorge came out with a good list last year. The other day John
>offered {suo ro suo}. Let that do for starters.

"At least all of the at least 1".  Makes sense to me; just sounds either
useless or redundantly lawyerish (which may mean the same thing).  Now
whether John agrees with me about these semantics is irrelevant (though
he should have recognized that I would come up with that), just as you
claim I don't have to agree with your semantics for "...green ideas