existence and reality

Rob Freeman rjfreeman at EMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 6 00:57:44 UTC 2003

On Sunday 06 April 2003 3:05 am, James MacFarlane wrote:
> ...This is all about
> frequency.  If two constituents (words, phonemes, morphemes) occur
> frequently together then the boundaries become blurred.

This is nice. The slow solidification of collocations over time shows a nice
parallel with the slow formation of new phonemes.

But we are still talking slow change over time here. Still in a mindset which
sees categories as "mostly" fixed. I don't know if others are seeing this,
but rather than thinking of two separate categories gradually merging to form
a new one over time can we not imagine that two words put together, even for
the very first time, immediately form a (very weak) new category (governed by
paradigmatic frequency effects, for example). Every new sentence might be
regarded as a weak (infrequent?) syntactic category in this sense. The slow
process over time rather than the formation of a new category might be seen
just as a gradual strengthening of this new combined category. The result is
the same but the important thing is that every combination of words can be
thought of (and should be modelled as) the formation of a new category.

Is this a common perspective?

I guess what I am really saying is has anyone considered the power of
emergence in paradigmatic categories rather than just syntagmatic?

> An article, which has done a great deal to shape the way I think about
> phonemes is Phonogenesis by Paul Hopper. In that article he argues for a
> continuum between grammar and phonology.  I think he has presented a great
> deal of evidence for emergence at the phoneme level.

I'd like to read it. I found a discussion
(http://www.eva.mpg.de/~haspelmt/Directionality.pdf) but not the paper. Is
Phonogeneis on the Web somewhere?



More information about the Funknet mailing list