[b-hebrew] Isaac Fried's Theory (was Karl's lexicon)

Isaac Fried if at math.bu.edu
Wed Aug 29 19:06:00 EDT 2007


James,

It appears to me that you are mixing up two distinct linguistic  
issues: (1) word formation (which is inherent), and (2) the use of  
language (which is invented). I am not interested in the latter, only  
in the former. Children don't invent roots.
What I am saying is very, very simple, and apparently because of this  
simplicity you overshoot it to land in strange territory. Let's be  
concrete. I like concreteness. Say you teach the Hebrew act [verb]  
$AMAR, 'guard'. Next you introduce to your students the augmented  
form $AMARNU, 'we guarded'. If you tell your students that $AMAR is  
now "inflected" and that the added NU is a "suffixed morpheme", then  
you are teaching them obtuse Indo-European grammar, but if you tell  
them that NU is ANU, 'we', and that $AMARNU = $AMAR-ANU, 'guard-we',  
then you teach them clear Hebrew grammar. Indo-European grammar is  
easy to teach since it requires no intellectual effort, just drill.
I am surprised that you are prepared to accept Steven Pinker's  
scientological fantasies as though they were God's word to Moses on  
mount Sinai, but keep asking me for a proof to something that is  
obviously true.

Isaac Fried, Boston University

On Aug 29, 2007, at 4:43 PM, JAMES CHRISTIAN READ wrote:

>
> IF: James,
>
> I am terribly sorry but what you are saying makes no sense to me. I
> know that the fault could rest all with me. I may be improperly
> hardwired, ignorant, or possibly not steeped deep enough in
> "psycholinguistics". I don't know. A statement such as "the only
> natural conclusion I can draw is that for your model to work it would
> require the ancient Hebrews to have had a cognitive system not only
> different from modern day humans but from primates and all other
> living animals that have eyes and ears" is truly beyond me. Sorry, we
> appear to inhabit different intellectual worlds.
>
> JCR: Ok! I am beginning to realise that maybe I haven't
> explained my objection to your model well enough. Let
> me try again but if I fail this time please let me
> know which parts I haven't explained well enough.
>
> Language is combinatorial. That is to say we combine
> words to make clauses. We combine clauses to make
> sentences etc. etc.This is the appealing part of your
> theory because it introduces a new level of combination
> - elemental consonants to form meaningful roots.
>
> There is no psycholinguistic problem to the observation
> that we combine words to make sentences because we
> have a cognitive system which is able to associate
> words with objects, their properties and their actions.
>
> There *is* a psycholinguistic problem with your model
> because there is no plausible cognitive model which
> would enable the brain of a human child to associate
> the elements you suggest with consonants and therefore
> be able to use them as a combinatorial basis.
>
> Please be specific about the parts you don't understand
> or take issue with in further replies.
>
> -------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------------------------------------------
>
> James Christian Read - BSc Computer Science
> http://www.lamie.org/hebrew       -  thesis1: concept driven  
> machine translation using the Aleppo codex
> http://www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc  -  thesis2: language acquisition  
> simulation
>
> -------------------------------------------------------
> -------------------------------------------------------
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