Language Complexity

Mon Dec 6 12:53:59 UTC 2010

Dear Stuart,

What I meant was that discussions of the complexity of a language should take discourse recursion into account. It is true (and well-established as you say) that finite grammars can generate non-finite languages. As I understand the difference, and I might not, the difference between recursive grammars and non-recursive grammars is in the length of the strings generated, rather than the grammar as a whole. So a sentence grammar lacking recursion (and so generating  only finite strings) would be less complex than a recursive grammar that generates non-finite strings. But the language as a whole, including discourse, can nevertheless manifest recursion above the sentence and hence any discussion of language complexity should include an evaluation of the discourse as well as the sentence grammar. 

Sorry about any confusion.  This has probably created more. 


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