Rule-List Fallacy

David Tuggy david_tuggy at
Thu Jun 19 16:33:52 UTC 2008

Agreed, emphgatically.

--David T

Edith Moravcsik wrote:
> 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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