Rule-List Fallacy

Edith Moravcsik edith at
Thu Jun 19 14:21:41 UTC 2008

That people can see expressions both as wholes and also as having parts is 
evident from "grammar itself" as well. Noun phrases behave as whole for 
purposes of anaphoric pronominalization; yet, the lexical composition of a 
noun phrase is variable showing that speakers are aware of the parts.

And the same is true of course in how we view objects outside language. We 
see most things around us both as units and as having parts.

Edith Moravcsik

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Tuggy" <david_tuggy at>
To: <funknet at>
Sent: Wednesday, June 18, 2008 1:33 PM
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Rule-List Fallacy

> Edith Moravcsik wrote:
>> <snip>If we did not know that these expressions might be analyzed by 
>> linguists as multi-part phrases, there would be nothing suprising about 
>> how people treat them; and we would lose the interesting question of why 
>> linguists' analyses and people's ways of processing these expressions 
>> parted ways.
>> The same holds for formulaic expressions in general. The reason it is 
>> interesting that people treat them as atomic wholes is that we linguists 
>> can analyze them as having parts.
> Well, it is also interesting that people can also analyze them as having 
> parts. Linguists are people too, of course, but non-linguist people are 
> often quite aware of parts of formulaic structures. The fact that both 
> modes are available (though perhaps differentially attractive) to both 
> linguists and language speakers is, I would maintain, highly important (as 
> well as interesting).
> --David Tuuggy

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