Esa Itkonen eitkonen at
Thu Mar 31 09:48:58 UTC 2011

Simplicity and complexity are conceptually interdependent: if, and only if, you can define one, you can define the other. Between 1957 and c. 1997 it was confidently predicted that a valid definition of simplicity (conceptualized as a "simplicity measure") was just around the corner. But, as we all know, nothing came of it. Nowadays much the same is being claimed about complexity. This seems illogical, however, for reasons just indicated. (Never mind that simplicity and complexity are mainly thought to apply to grammars and languages, respectively. It would surely be odd if the simplicity/complexity of grammars in no way reflected the simplicity/complexity of languages.) Why is all this so difficult? Some hints at an answer may or may not be gathered from my 2011 piece on 'Simplicity vs. complexity' (= click first 'Homepage' and then 'Selected writings available as full texts'). Some historical and conceptual background is provided by 'Philosophy of linguistics' (= 2011, to a
ppear in the 'Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics'). You are also free to have a (second?) look at what I wrote about this topic back in 2009.



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