long-distance control

Gilles Fauconnier faucon at cogsci.ucsd.edu
Wed Dec 23 18:41:39 UTC 2009

Interesting exchange between Dan and Tom.  In cognitive linguistics, we go 
perhaps one step further.  The powers of recursion, and more generally 
integration, lie in the human capacity to build vast networks of mental 
spaces with no discernable limits on the depth of embedding or the 
iteration of integrations.  Discourse, narratives, the cultural evolution 
of mathematics, religious thought, all display these powers.

What's remarkable about sentence syntax is actually how little recursion 
it has (as a formal combinatorial system), compared to meaning 
construction.  This is because language only needs to prompt for the
recursive thought processes.  It does not reflect them directly.


Gilles Fauconnier
Department of Cognitive Science
University of California San Diego
La Jolla CA 92093

E-mail    gfauconnier at ucsd.edu

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