easily imagined errors

Sherman Wilcox wilcox at UNM.EDU
Sun Apr 20 02:40:28 UTC 1997

On 4/19/97 6:59 PM, Daniel L. Everett said,

>The problem you are
>going to have convincing a generative syntactician is that it shows too
>little knowledge of the complexities of structure-dependency. The
>"cognitive unit" business is just hand-waving.

I'm reminded of something Clifford Geertz said many years ago: "To set
forth symmetrical crystals of significance, purified of the material
complexity in which they were located, and then attribute their existence
to autogenous principles of order, universal properties of the human
mind, or vast, a priori _weltanschauungen_, is to pretend a science that
does not exist and imagine a reality that cannot be found."

According to Dan, the complexities of structure-dependency *cannot* be
merely an imagined reality -- this is *true* knowledge. And yet when
Brian brings up cognitive units (a concept which I would guess he can
support with a fair amount of empirical evidence, not just linguistic but
also psychological, neurological, and computer modeling), Dan says this
is merely hand-waving.

Sherman Wilcox
Dept. of Linguistics
University of New Mexico

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