Rules vs. Lists

Jouni Maho vch468d at
Sun Jul 6 13:04:34 UTC 2008

Rob Freeman wrote:
 > We have to be careful what we regard as "examples". As I
 > said to Jouni phonemes should be thought of as classes not
 > examples. Similarly "roots", "lexemes", "morphemes" etc.

Well, you have to convince me why example-class is an important 
distinction to make here.

I'm sorry if I seem to be running off on a tangent, but I understood the 
more-rules-less-examples thing as being about lists of items and the 
rules that apply to them, but perhaps you're actually talking about 
something else.

Still, let me try to retract a bit, just to try to clarify to (for?) myself.

When a language user extracts rules (generalisations) from a series of 
utterances, that assumes that the rule-extractor has analysed the 
utterances into an abstract list, so that each uttered "Hi!" is analysed 
as belonging to a set.

Each generalisation (phones to a phoneme, many uttered "Hi!" to one 
abtract 'Hi!') is a rule, of course, but the abstract entities /a/ and 
"Hi!" themselves become units of a list on which other rules can apply. 
Hence also the rules themselves become members of lists. (Perhaps my 
earlier hypothetical example was not 5 items plus 6 rules, but rather 11 
items including 6 rules.)

Anyway, is "example" equal to the member of an abstract list ("Hi!" 
counts as one) or each uttered word ("Hi!" counts as many)? As a 
language user I make generalisations on various levels of abstraction. I 
can establish lexemes and phonemes from utterances, but I can also 
generalise syntactic ad morphological rules that apply to only certain 
classes of words or phonemes (which requires that I have made the 
example>class analysis first). So, does the distinction example-class 
really matter here?

jouni maho

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