bruhaha (after Lise Menn)

Diego Quesada dquesada at EPAS.UTORONTO.CA
Fri Jan 12 03:00:06 UTC 1996

On Thu, 11 Jan 1996, Tom Givon wrote:

> 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
 While I agree wholeheartedly with this point of view, some uneasiness
has invaded me, which translates in a kind of innocent question:
Extremist cross-fire has at least one aspect (advantage?) worth
mentioning: it keeps the whole linguistic community somehow connected.
Don't we run the risk of developing two linguistics' separate of each other?
"Middleness" could not be attained thus, could it? (Modularity of the
J. Diego Quesada
University of Toronto

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