Brownian thought space

Cognitive science, mostly, but more a sometimes structured random walk about things.

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Chronically curious モ..

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Lab meet with Lila Gleitman: The origin of Schmlanguage

Lila G has exceedingly interesting things to say and has a super-rich conception of the problems. As a bonus, she is very very witty, for example starting her discussion on observational learning of nouns with the yogiism "You can observe a lot by watching". One of the nice things about yesterdays talk was the clarity of what is meant by "language". I think it is quite clear both in and out of Chomskyan-style syntactic approaches that there is a lot of stuff happening with just the lexical items alone. There is no more a stark distinction between the syntax and the lexicon. As LG said, knowing the verb "give", implies knowing both that there is a certain subcat frame, and also that giving is composed of the giver, the given and the givee. So when Luca objected that word learning might not be core-language, but something else, LG said ok, let's just say I study schmlanguage. Schmlanguage. Looks like I study schmlanguage too! In fact I rather think that the term is useful, in that it moves away from the syntacto-centric view of language (a la Ray Jackendoff), towards... well, schmlanguage :)

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