Teresa Pelka

Grammar is always a project

Travelers in Grammar will remain always a project. It does not mean the books and courses never end, or remain unfinished.

 

What is grammar?

 

Wiktor Jassem quotes Paul Postal:

“…a language is an infinite set of sentences which are triplets of phonetic, syntactic, and semantic properties generated by a finite abstract project, or grammar, which consists of sets of partially independent elements called rules and a lexicon or dictionary. Such grammars are represented in human neural systems and provide implicit knowledge of the language they define. A grammar is thus in certain ways analogous to a computer program in that it is a formal system partially determining the behaviour of a physical system (…)”

 

Nature and information

 

In the 20th century, neurophysiology began applying the phrase information processing to human bodily structures. Fair and square, if we see a cat or a dog, our eyes give us information on the animal being around. We are not just under an impression we see it, or experience premonition on life on Earth. At the same time, nobody would go on a lookout for cats or dogs, to tell the weather.

 

Program and feedback

 

It is natural grammar to have natural language information. This information gets operated by human nervous systems, and this in basically two modes: closed-loop or open-loop. The open-loop processes go their course as the instruction requires. They are compared to programs. Closed-loop processes are feedback.

 

Nature delimits on programs. Live nervous systems need to sustain in variable ecosystems. Excess program would thwart the ability to react and adapt. All biological programs depend on feedback, including the DNA for active protein.

 

In everyday language, feedback is associated with opinion, or physical control. Obviously, live nervous systems are not opinionated tyrannies. Feedback is a biological capability for closed-loop interaction. It becomes generated as necessary, among neural and other structures.

 

For the proportion on program and feedback in language, we can compare spoonerisms. The slips are segmental, and this is about the scope the nervous system allows pre-determined routines for language.

 

A program is predetermined from beginning to end. Natural language is infinite. There is no way to calculate all possible forms or structures, and there is no genetic program to produce literature. To manage own language skill, we need own brain logic. This logic can produce finite sets as projects, yet never as programs. Natural grammar cannot be analogous to a computer program.

 

Feelings!

What do you do, if a child says he or she is hating you? Do you say,
“No, you are not hating me. You hate me. It is a stative verb, here, in the list… ?”

__Smiley joke PNG

 

I have come across a few languages in my life, and English grammars and grammarians remain the only scholarly entities to recognize stative verbs. Whatever order the British Council would enumerate on such special words to memorize, the couple in the picture do not look like rehearsing rote.

 

CG6F71

 

In fact, it feels quite strange to be told to parrot words from a list, for thought and emotion. It feels… a kind of a lie, and good liars do not publicize their lying rules.

 

Regardless of fact, English grammars would group the “stative” or “static verbs” and tell the learner not to use them with the Progressive, for the nature of the verbs.

 

 

The verbs themselves do not make separate groups or categories. To feel can serve an interesting example. We might say, “I feel fresh”, to speak about our senses. We could say, “I feel love”, to speak about our emotions. We also could say, possibly in another context, “I feel this is crude”, to say what we think.

__Smiley joke PNG

 

Let us compare American English at work.
This is a dream come true. And I’m loving every minute of it.
(NBC_Today Sun as in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, COCA.)

 

I’ve been loving it. But I want to keep doing different things.
(People magazine as in COCA.)

 

If we have a look at all Aspects as in a chart, we might be tempted to view grammar as made of options. Then, we might say, we can choose not to use some verbs with an option. Options can be mutually exclusive.

 

FEATURE CHART

 

However, human brains need to be live structures for grammar, and these have simultaneous processes. When we use the Present Simple, our paths for the Perfect Progressive for example do not become “switched off”. If we use the Progressive, we do not exclude a possibility for the same thing to happen also in a manner we describe in the Simple:

“I’m loving you”,
would not mean
“I don’t love you”.
Feel welcome to the Earthling basic variable.

 

Link to chapter 8.1. Earthling basic variable and proper egoism

 

Grammar – Why think about space?

The word spatialization comes from the Latin “spatium”. It meant a place, space, as well as room or extent. All natural languages spatialize, which does not have to refer us to the outer space, however it also can.

 

odyssey-girl

Screenshot credit: Geoffrey Unsworth, Metro Goldwyn-Meyer

The little girl in the Space Odyssey says her mommy’s gone TO shopping. The girl spatializes: she relates activity and place.

 

Most children spatialize. The place may not be specified, especially if to think about big shopping malls. The child yet would reckon there has to be a place for a thing to happen at all.

 

As children, we first learn where objects, creatures, events, or people are. We learn telling when things happen later, hence the name spatialization. Our sense of time is secondary to our sense of space, and language has the process. Not only in English, there would be words we can use for space as well as time.

 

The phrase, “BEFORE the turn”, might tell about a place.
BEFORE ten”, might tell about time.

 

Spatialization remains natural, common and sane sense, when we are grown up. Association between time and place belongs with human minds. We can use it for grammar.

 

We can think about natural human mapping, as with geography and travel. We live on Earth. We usually view land or seas as extents. We give at least psychological borders to areas in which we are. We perceive routes and ways to places. We happen to be at landmarks and places. Here are a few examples.

 

_value-on

Simple: She meets him every month.
She reads a lot. [ON]

 

_value-in

Progressive: She is meeting him tomorrow
She is reading now. [IN]

 

_value-to

Perfect: She had worked hard for her success.
She will have finished the work by next month. [TO]

 

We can merge our values IN and TO, for the Perfect Progressive:
She has been  studying for hours.
She will have been studying for 10 hours then. [AT]

_value-at

 

Our variables together will allow cognitive mapping of all the four Aspects.
ALL ASPECTS MAPPED

 

Feel welcome to Travel in Grammar.

 

American English ― where from?

Magnifying glasses do not always make matters clearer. There has been much talk about American English in terms ancestral. Researchers have analyzed speech sounds and “derived” them with particularity suggestive of Pygmalion:

 

“…I’ll take it down first in Bell’s Visible Speech; then in Broad Romic; and then we’ll get… the phonograph…” 😉

 

I have never pondered over any possibility to become my grandfather. Anyway, my grandfathers as well as grandmothers did not speak American, or actually any English, as far as I remember. My father spoke some English, but he had an accent and told me to pick up on my own, I was little enough to do that. If I wanted a grammar book, he would buy it for me, same for note books and other stationery, but he would not teach me. He was right, though he was a historian.

 

Back to deriving American:

“The main idea of the approach is that the origins of American English are somehow contained in the various regional dialects of British English…”
American English, an Introduction, by Zoltan Kovecses.

 

Ben Trawick-Smith makes an interesting point: we might think about the British as “talking American”, as well. He includes American English with “a larger continuum of Southern England-derived dialects”. He yet adds the idea is debatable. When Did Americans Stop “Talking British”?

 

What American English would the talk be about? If we do not say, the American English of the 1900s, or 1800s, we say contemporary American English.

 

The present-day form of the language originated in the USA. Part the speech sounds, isolated, might resemble British. It is yet inevitable. We could not want a language without speech sounds, to have a language of its own. However, we always tell origins of languages by lands of emergence.

 

Feel welcome to my grammar Extras. They also present some knowledge about the USA to include the beginnings.

 

Link to grammar extras

 

Generative and Universal Grammar: frequently asked questions

The questions and answers below are to explain on the stand my grammar approach has regarding the Universal Grammar by Noam Chomsky. Undeniably, Mr. Chomsky’s work has been of important reference in my language activity. I began inventing my grammar long before I ever heard about Mr. Chomsky, however.

 

Feel welcome to email me about generative grammar. Comments will be posted only by consent.

 

1. Is there literally a universal grammar, to learn any language of choice?

 

A uniform grammar for all languages in the world is impossible. I am not aware of any such postulate by Mr. Chomsky.

 

A grammar is generative when it tells the principles or variables a person can use to produce standard language independently, without following formulations by other people. In other words, with generative grammar, we do not consider if we use the Present Simple because a book says we do so when “we want to say this or that”. We consider the Present Simple when our own cognitive and spatio-temporal orientation encourages it.

 

Mr. Chomsky’s grammar tells what principles many languages would have in common. My grammar would offer variables for primarily American English.

Feel welcome to read: Grammar is always a project

 

2. Does the Universal Grammar imply there are actually Language Acquisition Devices in human brains?

 

Linguistically, a device may be something devised, as well as a faculty that devises. This latter meaning would apply to Mr. Noam Chomsky’s theory best.

 

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines the verb to devise: “to form, plan, or arrange in the mind; design or contrive; to suppose; imagine”.

 

However, I do not follow the notion of the Language Acquisition Device. I follow the term of the human language faculty.

Feel welcome to read: Parameters and devices

 

3. Could language be a result of a genetic mutation?

 

Mr. Noam Chomsky has used the word “mutation” with reference to language as a result of human evolution.

 

I think people can evolve language during lifespan, without any corresponding genetic change. Human language skills are not the same if to compare childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, while the DNA retains identity in good shape. My sense for evolving is “to achieve gradually, to work out, to devise.” I never use the term “mutation” with regard to language.

Feel welcome to read: American English ― where from?

 

4. Is language fully explainable in terms of principles and neural models?

 

Natural language learning and use would not have been possible without the human person. There are no “mathematical”, “purely functional”, or “strictly logical” connectivities in human brains. Outcome of isolated neuron excitation can be considered only in terms of statistics. Without individual work, the brain would not just “start up” and produce language.

 

A simple example might come from a mail person: even only two, but absolutely identical postcards are unlikely.
Feel welcome to read: Feelings!

 

5. What is spatialization and is it universal?

 

Spatialization means that we can use some of the words we have learned regarding earthly space ― also for time. In English, we can say before that house at the end of the road, before that turn to the left, as well as before noon, or before twelve hours.

 

All natural languages spatialize, thus we could say that spatialization is universal. Every language would spatialize a bit differently, however.

Feel welcome to read: Grammar ― why think about space?

 

Parameters and devices

Noam Chomsky proposed his Language Acquisition Device to explain human language learning. It is true that people acquire languages most flexibly until 14 years old. It is true that people could not merely memorize language: there has to be a logical capacity. I do comprehend that a device may be something devised, as well as a faculty that devises. However, a device is often a thing that could be operated externally, from the outside. Association with such governance could not be my ideal.

 

I have always preferred the human language faculty. Language skill needs the brain entire, regardless of age.

 

The break of the 19th and 20th centuries had people used to specialization. Linguistics was separate from psychology, as neurology from endocrinology. Human language became recognized as located in two areas, Broca and Wernicke.

 

 

Wernicke or Broca, they are not the visual or auditory tissue. Do we learn language without hearing or seeing it? Wernicke or Broca, they are not the frontal lobes, as of the forehead: do we learn to say and use our [t] or [d] without goal-oriented thinking? Wernicke or Broca are not the limbic system, brainstem, or parietal gnostic structures to integrate the senses: could the humanity ever have evolved language in some “non-time” and “non-space”?

 

 

The matter with the brain is that it does not have a singular superior structure we could call the mind. Brains make networks within. One time, a network or its part is more active. Another time, it is another network or part of a network. Whether we would call it a soul, a personality, or brain epiphenomenon (when particularly tired), the brain re-orients for activity without a permanently dominant gyrus or sulcus. If we would enjoy a political metaphor, brain structures would be a democracy. There is no king or queen tissue that would all the time preside.

 

More, there is no universal brain logic. Neurons connect as we join thought and experience. Neurons that would look identical, and would give the same parameter in measurement, might have very different cognitive contents. As people grow, learn and think more, the connections usually become as dense as to make “hidden” layers: continually active, they make telling which neurons work for what ― impossible.

 

This is why I do not see sense in trying to have “brain devices” and scanning them for parameters. Feel welcome to read:

The Latin demeanor

Wikimedia Commons: Letters to the Conversant, Epistulae ad familiares, Marcus Tullius Cicero

Why say circle [sIrkl], if we say cat [kæ:t]?

 

The thing here is about saying Annuit coeptis, according to the Latin standard and knowing what and why, not only repeating memorized pronunciation.

 

Ancient Latin had a sound that modern English hardly has, [ts] in many phonetic scripts. We may try to produce it, saying [s] and closing on the hard palate as for [t]. Russian and Polish have the sound in the word ценT, cent. German has the sound in the numeral zehn, ten. The Latin centesimus meant a hundredth, and cententionalis was a small coin, all the words here to belong with a decimal idea.

 

It was the Amber Road to bring the Latin influence. We can compare kwota [kvota] in Polish, квота [kvota] in Russian, and Quote [kvote] in German. French native phonology, would generally discard [v] within syllables, and has shaped quota as [ko:ta:].

 

Ancient trade communication was mostly spoken. Italians, more familiar with written Latin, have developed [kwota], let us yet mind that Italian is not “modern Latin”, however it has [ts] in cena, and [k] in costo. Assimilation of Latin patterns into English was mostly via written resources as well, English further to have been influenced by French, after the Norman conquest. The French also would not have the speech sound [ts].

 

In Latin, the letter c stood for [ts] (or [c] in the phonetic script for Slavic languages) before front vowels. Back vowels or non-vowels always brought about [k].

 

We can be back with circles and cats. In modern English words that derive from Latin, the letter c sounds [s] before front vowels, and it becomes [k], before back vowels.

 

Latin also had digraphs. We can see one in the word cœptis. In speech, it made the sound [e], therefore the c before it was [ts].

 

Square Roman capitals were a font style, as we would call them today, for ceremonious and official presentation of text. The Great Seal motto would look as here, in the style.

E PLVRIBVS VNVM
ANNVIT CŒPTIS
NOVVS ORDO SECLORVM

 

arch-of-titus-inscription

Wikimedia: Arch of Titus, square Roman capitals

 

Latin had a specialty about the letter shapes and sounds u and v. For example, we can see the letter “u” in the word language. The Latin word was lingua, and the way to say it was [lIηgva], as a low vowel followed. The nominative decided for all declension. We may compare cuius [kuIus]. More, the letter shape q always was to be followed by u pronounced as [v].

 

 

Handwritten, the motto would look
E pluribus, unum
Annuit cœptis
Novus ordo seclorum.

 

There is not a context to require sounding u as [v].

 

Here we go,
[a: n n u I t]  [ts ε: p t  I s].

 

We may mind that ancients pronounced double non-vowels separately, as in an | nuit.

 

Feel welcome to read about the Seal.

 

The role of feedback in natural language

Artificial intelligence has patterned after human structures for years. In consequence, artificial parsing has come to be used for teaching and diagnosis. Computers rely on programs. The work discusses human information processing, with focus to the role of feedback in language. Human information processing differs from artificial considerably.

 

  • Tests by Ladefoged showed speech and language dependence on feedback without exception.
  • Human DNA requires cellular feedback for active protein.
  • Human endurance under feedback impoverishment has been proved lower than for fasting.

Not only on these grounds, the role of feedback in human language processing can be posited to approximate a drive.

 

I defended the thesis in year 2000, at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, earning my M.A. degree in American English, specialization psycholinguistics.

 

Cognitive variables in grammar

Our human minds have a natural habit to associate time and place. Without exception, the two co-occur in our earthly reality: we cannot have time without place, or place without time. Computer virtual projects might isolate the two, but human grammar has not evolved in a virtual reality.

 

Let us think about a few basic words we might use to talk about places. The words could be on, in, and to: we people live on Earth, we give at least psychological borders to areas in which we are, and we learn as well as remember ways to places.

 

We people also map cognitively. Our cognitive maps do not have the strict geographical measurement, but they partake in the ability to get to a place in the shortest length of space as well as time, in our everyday routes, to school, work, or another location.

 

Let us think about the grammatical Aspects most children acquire before school tuition begins: the Simple, the Progressive, and the Perfect.

 

The Simple: We often use it to speak about habits, as well as feelings and thoughts — all that does not change often. We may have the habit to do something usually, as well as… never. We can think about a cognitive map. The Simple would tell what we generally see that existed, exists, or we think will exist ON the map.

 

The Progressive: We can use it to say that something was, is, or will be IN progress, IN its course. To imagine this Aspect, we could picture activity or faculties in an area.

 

The Perfect: we can use it to say what had taken place, has taken place, or will have taken place TO a moment in time. The moment does not have to mark the end of the state, activity, or faculty work. We may view the course or occurrence of the activity as a way to a place.

 

As our grammars cannot depend on particular geographical areas, we may think about an abstract cognitive extent that would work for us wherever we are.

 

 

Let us compare classic grammar guidance. We may learn we use the Present Progressive for things happening “now”. We might get to associate the tense with the word “now”, but such a rule would not work any time we speak about the way we feel or think. We yet say,

I am happy now,
I think I like it now
(Present Simple).

 

With variables, we may think about granting or denying cognitive extents. For example, if we select part an extent for our view, we mark we do not mean an entire extent:

 

He is being mad {IN}. He is sane {ON}.

 

Feel welcome to comment as well as see more at

Chapter 4. Time rambles different with different people

 

My dear head

My dear head does not give me headaches. This is one of the reasons I literally love it and would not change it for anything in the universe or multiverse entire and beyond. Should I write, “my dear Head…” ?

 

Some people will say you capitalize for respect. You spell “the Queen’s English”, and you write “the Chairman”. Well, but then you’d have to assume respect about the Nazis and the Jihad, whoever knows the rationale for the “Queen’s English”: language does not belong with the royal interests, according to the official website:

 

Elizabeth II official website; click to enlarge.

 

“An animal lover since childhood, The Queen takes a keen and highly knowledgeable interest in horses. Other interests include walking in the countryside and working her Labradors, which were bred at Sandringham. A lesser known interest is Scottish country dancing.”

 

The official note is absolutely worth trust, as I most unfortunately had to experience during my 2,5 years stay in England, in environments by royalist services.

 

To return to thought, there is observable singularity in use of capital letters.

 

 

“The question as to whether there is such a thing as divine right of kings is not settled in this book. It was found too difficult. That the executive head of a nation should be a person of lofty character and extraordinary ability, was manifest and indisputable; that none but the Deity could select that head unerringly, was also manifest and indisputable; that the Deity ought to make that selection, then, was likewise manifest and indisputable; consequently, that He does make it, as claimed, was an unavoidable deduction. I mean, until the author of this book encountered the Pompadour, and Lady Castlemaine, and some other executive heads of that kind; these were found so difficult to work into the scheme, that it was judged better to take the other tack in this book (which must be issued this fall), and then go into training and settle the question in another book. It is, of course, a thing which ought to be settled, and I am not going to have anything particular to do next winter anyway.” 😉

 

Mark Twain had a wonderful sense of humor. 🙂

 

Heads ― whether of states, boards, or phrases and clauses ― their capitalization depends on relevance. The President would be the president in office. The Queen would be the current queen of a monarchy. We can write “the Flag” for “the American flag” (the British flag, the French flag, and other), provided we have enough reference in the context. We can write the American president or the English queen, about people in their offices, as then the focus is on the function with regard to the country.

 

Compared with the human body, country heads would show some potential for detachment. A person is in office, and then, another person is in the same office. This obviously is not the case with human bodily heads, where the potential for detachment is dramatically lower, regarding sustained function.

 

Therefore, it is my dear head not to give me headaches.

 

It has been also owing to this valor of my dear head that I may offer a public domain translation of Common Sense by Thomas Paine. Feel welcome. 🙂