Evolution and Grammaticalization
lists at chaoticlanguage.com
Wed Mar 1 01:01:42 UTC 2006
On Wednesday 01 March 2006 08:48, Östen Dahl wrote:
> (The two meanings are "a nonfunctional property or byproduct" and "an
> effect which by itself has no effects in the physical world whatever".)
I don't think we need be surprised, all words have different and even
contradictory meanings. If they do it is probably because we need them all.
In particular it is not unusual for causes and effects to get mixed up.
To me it is your first meaning of "byproduct", in the sense of "not being a
direct effect", or "having no direct causes" which is the most interesting
and relevant for epiphenomena in the context of language.
Of course an epiphenomenal model of language does not mean there are no
causes, only that the causes are not direct. We would still have grammar, it
is just identification as an epiphenomenon would mean we would not seek to
directly describe the grammar in terms of rules. What rules we have would
only describe indirect causes, like ways of generalizing usage.
> The term "emergence", by the way, is arguably even more ambiguously used by
> linguists and others. I discuss the two terms "emergence" and
> "epiphenomena" in my book "The growth and maintenance of linguistic
> complexity", Benjamins 2004.
Can you outline the main issues for us? I would like to hear what you have to
say about "emergence" (especially in the epiphenomenal sense of "having no
direct causes" rather than the evolutionary sense of gradual change!!)
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