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

JAMES CHRISTIAN READ JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk
Thu Aug 30 16:45:58 EDT 2007

IF: I am hastening to say that Steven Pinker is not a scientologist. 

JCR: Ok! I did a quick search on the internet and 
didn't find anything proclaiming him to be one but I 
didn't want to make an issue out of it but opted to 
remain on course with the linguistic discussion.

IF: I said that his theories appear to me to be scientological in nature.  

JCR: This is probably going a little bit off topic but 
what correlation do you see between proving that 
language acquisition is a hard wired human instinct 
(like spinning a web is for spiders) and scientological 

IF: Language (vocabulary+grammar) is transmitted to us through the generations.

JCR: Vocabulary is transmitted. Grammar is induced by 
process of generalisation. Did you know that not so 
long ago 'abide' was an 'irregular' verb in English with past tense of 'abode'? By failing to transmit this item of vocabulary our processes of generalisation 
take over and our hard wired instincts therefore tell
us that the past tense of 'abide' is 'abided'. How did 
this happen? Because the verb became less common and 
so children were not exposed to its 'irregular' (at 
some point in the history of the English language the 
rule for forming the past tense of this verb was 
regular) form and thus had to rely on their hard wired 
mechanisms of generalisation to form the past tense of 
the verb, the very same mechanisms which caused us all 
to make the 'mistake' of saying 'goed' instead of 
'went' when we were getting to grips with the accepted 
protocol of communication that we affectionately refer 
to as English. Thus with every generation grammar is 
induced by generalisation and not specifically 
handed down. What is handed down is a few examples of 
'correct' language and a few exceptions to the generic 
rules that *we make for ourselves*.

Vocabulary, is also invented, in every generation. Your 
theory should account for this. If the Hebrews, as you 
have suggested, merely received their vocabulary and 
did not need to worry about the elements of their roots 
that you suggest, just what method did they use for 
inventing new words without creating exceptions?

IF: All I am interested in is the structure of Hebrew words such as  
$AMARNU. Do you agree with what I have said about its composition?

JCR: Actually, I would go a step further than you. As 
I have stated in the past, my research has led me to 
believe the key to understanding languages, what is 
truly universal to all languages, is the mechanisms of 
our cognitive system upon the foundation of which 
language is built. At the very centre of that system is 
the cognition of objects and all words in a sentence, 
according to my model all words modify the objects they 
are associated with. 

I would, therefore, not state that the verb 'to guard' 
is modified by the personal pronoun 'we'. I would say 
that the personal pronoun 'we' is being modified by 
the affix which describes the completed action of 
'guarding' to produce a 'word' (more precisely a 
phonetic sequence, I take issue with the conventional 
definition of words) which conjures up cognitive 
understanding of the speaker and other/s (cognitive 
understanding of who the others were or may have been 
would be supplied by context and hence the power of 
n-grams) having guarded X (where X is a variable that 
refers to any of a list of things that can be guarded).

Just in case you are interested, I view language as a 
sequence of phonemes and pauses. Shamarnu has very 
little meaning on its own but in a real phonetic string 
becomes far more meaningful. I, therefore, take issue 
with the conventional definition of 'words' which is 
quite arbitrary. What makes shamarnu a 'word' but not 
'nu' other than arbitrary convention? Thus my model of 
language, which you are free to view as completely 
ridiculous, the following are all 'words' with slightly 
different meanings:

i)   Iwenttotheshop
ii)  Hewenttotheshop
iii) Hewentothezoo
iv)  Shewenttothezoo
v)   Shewenttothemarket
vi)  Theywenttothemarket

I know it may be a little uncomfortable at first to 
read this unconventional way of presenting language but
this is the way you hear these phrases - as one 
continuous string of phonemes. It is merely by 
convention that we say that 'weguarded' is two 'words' 
in English but 'shamarnu' is one 'word' in Hebrew. To
me 'shamarnu' is as meaningless in Hebrew as 'we 
guarded' is in English. Any one hearing such a 
statement would immediately wonder 'Who is the we?' and 
'What did they guard?'. All that we understand by such 
an utterance is that it can be used in more meaningful 
utterances like:

i)  We guarded the temple all night
ii) We guarded the gold for you, sir

So, if you are willing to accept my model of utterances 
you will see that the individual elements which are 
understood by our cognitive system are the objects 
involved, what they are doing and when. Of course, 
whether you model the elements as 'words' or 'affixes' 
is really irrelevant to the point being made. Such is, 
after all, merely convention.


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


f/www.lamie.org/lad-sim.doc  -  thesis2: language acquisition simulation


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