bruhaha (after Lise Menn)

Thu Jan 11 18:08:16 UTC 1996

Happy NY!
Hope you're doing well. Re that bruhaha -- we are caught between the
two extreme poles of atomic-meaning reductionism and contextual-meaning
reductionism. For our own sanity, we need to remember that neither extreme
is empirically viable without the other. Meaning has a large relatively-
invariant (relatively!) component, but also a considerable supplement of
context-mediated interpretation. A cognitively-founded theory of lexical
representation in the brain, i.e. a NETWOK model integrated within a Rosch-
type PROTOTYPE approach, accounts for such "centrist" behavior in a very
natural way. What we need to watch out for is the tendency by both
extreme schools to push us to an extreme position. It would be nice to
reaffirm a middle-ground, emoirically viable position, and somehow not
let the two extreme dictate the terms of a "debate" which is, in my
experience, one more pseudo-argument in modern linguistics. It would be
unfortunate if we allow ourselves to be defined by the unreasonable,
reductionist positions of the less-empirical lobbies. It is time for this
field (linguistics) to stop this silly game, and to go on with serious
science; where, most often than not, complex problems are not solved by
simple reductionist dogmas. TG

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