Rules vs. Lists

Jouni Maho vch468d at
Sat Jul 5 14:29:30 UTC 2008

May a lurker butt in with a little thought experiment?

Re Rob Freeman's:
 > Can you show me a system where there are more rules implicit in the
 > examples than there are examples themselves, and explain why it must
 > be so?

Assume the following (complete) lexicon of a hypothetical language:


And the rules:

C > b r m l t
V > e a u i
Root > CVCV
V2 > a
R+ba > agent
R+ma > causative

That is, 5 list items, 6 rules. This assumes, of course, that the types 
of rules can be of any "kind", i.e. morphological, phonological, etc. Or 
does the question suppose that there should be restrictions on type of 
rules (only morphological, only phonological, etc.)?

I'm not sure how easy this would be if the lexicon's size was 
considerably larger, but at least it's possible to devise a 
less-items-more-rules system as a thought experiment. I have no idea why 
it should be so, but it's certainly pissoble.

By the way, would a vowel-consonant inventory (list) with it's 
accompanying rules (phonotax, assimilation, etc.) count as a valid 
less-items-more-rules system?

jouni maho

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