Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Week 10: Linguistics

Does Chompsky see language as innate?

Paul: he sees language as innate but not how we use it, the underlying structures are within us

"competence is best described as our tacit, internalised knowledge of a language.

Performance is external evidence of language competence, and is usage on particular occasions when, crucially, factors other than our linguistic competence may affect its form.

Competence both explains and characterises a speaker's knowledge of a language. Performance, however, is a poor mirror of competence. For examples, factors diverse as short term memory limitations or whether or not we have been drinking can alter how we speak on any particular occasion. This brings us to the nub of Chomsky's initial criticism: a corpus is by its very nature a collection of externalised utterances - it is performance data and is therefore a poor guide to modelling linguistic competence."

Competence: is the ability to use the knowledge (innate)

Performance: the use of knowledge (the evidence, demonstration of your understanding)

Andrew: This view is controversial because there is a tradition of emprirical science which seeks to define the world by observational evidence. If something exists a priori where is the evidence?

Basically it is Rationalism vs. Empiricism

"If we are unable to measure linguistic competence, how do we determine from any given utterance what are linguistically relevant performance phenomena? This is a crucial question, for without an answer to this, we are not sure that what we are discovering is directly relevant to linguistics. We may easily be commenting on the effects of drink on speech production without knowing it."

What is Rationalism:

"rationalist theories are based on the development of a theory of mind in the case of linguistics, and have as a fundamental goal cognitive plausibility. The aim is to develop a theory of human language processing, but actively seeks to make the claim that it represents how the processing is actually undertaken."

Think of Renaissnace, Enlightenment, when people decided to try to understand the world through a "rational" way...basic idea is to try to argue logically (think of Descartes: Cogito Ergo Sum

See Descartes dialogue here.

What is Empiricism:

"an empiricist approach to language is dominated by the observation of naturally occurring data, typically through the medium of the corpus. For example, we may decide to determine whether sentence x is a valid sentence of language y by looking in a corpus of the language in question and gathering evidence for the grammatically, or otherwise of the sentence."

Chomsky believes that all the utterances we make can be decoded as evidence of the underlying grammar. (ta da structuralism)

Andrew: Chomsky proposed a generative structure - we all have the possibility of language, not that we all have language embedded within us. Thus languages that form can be evidence of that competence.

normally, in linguistics there is a lot of weight on the sound of words, semantics

SEMANTICS: Is Meaning.

Once you introduce semantics, meaning of something, you have just introduced shared understanding and nuances and differences of meaning. - "Old men and women"

To understand semantics and this grammatical layer is Chomsky's main challenge. But as you can see Chomsky isn't so interested in categorising but rather wants to take it as evidence of a unique set of rules.

Andy's book: she starts off by discounting ideas that there are rules of grammar (like we shouldn't split infinitives). Has included comments from people attending her lectures who are appalled at her lectures

Paul: apply this idea to essay question. If we say a colour but we're looking at a hologram that colour might seem entirely different if it is placed at the front of the image or if it appears at the back. So in terms of the meaning structures, they're not really what the colours are but how they appear.

Andrew: There is no way of a pure reading of "things". Think of icons and symbols that we are constantly creating online.

Andrew: Why is Manovich's book called: "The Language of New Media."

Andy: It has an idea to do with grammar. There is a grammar of music, a way things are structured and how things fit together.

Andrew: What would be the advantage of having a grammar of new media?

Andy: It would make things a lot easier to read?

Paul: According to Chomsky there is an overall structure (synatax) for how languages are put together but that doesn't mean that the words in sentences (in dif. languages) mean the same thing or appear in the same way even if the overall sentence means the same thing.

Jess: Manovich is trying to give us Chomsky's universal grammar so that we all have a shared vocab with which to talk about new media

"James Peel, Goldberg Variations Series, after Bach, Variations no. 4, 2005

Jess think of Manovich:
"In contrast to the
West, where artists gave up on illusionistic pictorial space in favor of
the notion of a painting as a self-sufficient material object, many Russian
artists, both representational and abstract, continue to conceive of a
painting ("kartina") as a parallel reality which begins at the picture
frame and extends towards infinity. Thus, Eric Bulatov has described his
paintings as windows onto another, spiritual universe, while Ilya Kabakov
conceptualizes his installations as a logical expansion of pictorial
traditions into the third dimension -- a materialization of reality models
previously presented by painting."

What about the semantic web?

Jess: basically it's about using a "natural language" but it will also appear in a language that computers can recognise.

The Semantic Web is an evolving extension of the World Wide Web in which web content can be expressed not only in natural language, but also in a format that can be read and used by software agents, thus permitting them to find, share and integrate information more easily.[1] It derives from W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee's vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information, and knowledge exchange.

At its core, the semantic web comprises a philosophy,[2] a set of design principles,[3] collaborative working groups, and a variety of enabling technologies. Some elements of the semantic web are expressed as prospective future possibilities that have yet to be implemented or realized.[4] Other elements of the semantic web are expressed in formal specifications.[5] Some of these include Resource Description Framework (RDF), a variety of data interchange formats (e.g. RDF/XML, N3, Turtle, N-Triples), and notations such as RDF Schema (RDFS) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL), all of which are intended to provide a formal description of concepts, terms, and relationships within a given knowledge domain.

Paul: although the information is likely to be (at least for the foreseable future) it almost def. won't be displayed in a book-based format...and photosynth isn't quite the pinnacle but it is moving to a 3d system

Andy: there's always a trade-off between making something usable and making it do a lot. Programming language has to be very explicit. The way you end up with simplicity is because there's a load of programming behind it so it's very explicit.

Andrew: The bit that interests me is understanding in terms of computing, Paul said "the computer will understand."

Andy: You mean when the computer understands it is because someone else (the programmer) has been very explicit.

Andrew: Fuzzy logic - a more natural answer. Like the aibo dogs, they look like dogs but actually aren't anything like dogs (have adpoted certain behaviour patterns that fool us - if we are fooled in fact)

Think of the famous computer against Kasparov chess game. Where the IBM super computer won but Kasparov was adamant that there was a human behind the screen. See here for more info.

"On an autumn day in 1769, a Hungarian nobleman, Wolfgang von Kempelen, was summoned to witness a conjuring show at the imperial court of Maria Theresa, empress of Austria-Hungary. So unimpressed was Kempelen by what he saw that he impetuously declared that he could do better himself. Very well, said the empress, and gave him six months to deliver on his promise..

The following year Kempelen unveiled an extraordinary contraption: a mechanical man seated behind a wooden cabinet. The Turk, as it became known, was fashioned from wood, powered by clockwork, and dressed in a stylish Turkish costume. Most astonishing of all, it was capable of playing chess. But how did it work? A torrent of pamphlets, books and articles followed the Turk wherever it went. Was it controlled by a dwarf, a monkey, or a legless war veteran lurking in its innards? Was it an elaborate form of puppet, or controlled by magnets? Or had Kempelen succeeded in building a thinking machine? Even eminent scientists failed to fathom the Turk's secret.

Kempelen's machine was a huge success in Europe and America. The subject of numerous stories, legends and outright fabrications, the Turk became associated with a host of historical figures, including Benjamin Franklin, Catherine the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charles Babbage and Edgar Allan Poe. Along the way, this strange creation unwittingly helped to bring about the development of the power loom, the computer and the detective story."

Think of Vaucanson-duck, the mechanical duck that was so realistic:

"Vaucanson provided his own description of his duck after writing his Essay on the mechanism of the flute-playing automaton : "Sir, the new automatons that I intend to exhibit next Easter Monday and to which my flute player will be added, include as n°1 a duck, in which I show the mechanism of the viscera employed in the functions of drinking, eating and digestion; the way in which all the parts required for these actions function together is imitated precisely : the duck extends its neck to take the grain out of thehand, it swallows it, digests it and expels it completely digested through the usual channels; all the movements of the duck, which swallows precipitously and which works its throat still more quickly to pass the food

into its stomach, are copied from nature; the food is digested in the stomach as it is in real animals, by dissolution and not by trituration, as a number of physicists have claimed it; but this is what I intend to demonstrate and show upon that occasion. The material digested in the stomach passes through tubes, as it does through the entrails in the animal, to the anus, where there is a sphincter to allow its release."

Task: look at Turing in an overview way
Concentrate on Deleuze and Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia

Focus on their idea of the rhizome. Check out the excerpt available on Amazon which is the introductory chapter: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/0826476945/ref=sib_rdr_ex?ie=UTF8&p=S00R&j=0#reader-page and here is an excerpt on the rhizome: http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/courses/ed253a/kellner/deleuze.html. Here is a good blog post that brings in the idea of binaries which we discussed in our feminism lecture: http://thinkingculture.blogspot.com/2004/12/deleuze-and-guattari-thousand-plateaus.html

Don't forget essay questions!

Andy: try a case study (online use of language) but keep in mind the ethics question, just firm up exactly what it is and your method that you'll use. Interesting read: The Path of the Argo: Language, Imagery and Narrative in the Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius

Paul: We perceive holograms as being incredibly accurate representations or copies of what exists in the real world but how much of this understanding is innate and how much is about understanding how photos work etc... Is it Trompe L'oeille applied to a digital work (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trompe_l'oeil)

To what extent does photography viewing apply to holography....basically you'll need a compare and contrast question.


shen-an-doah said...

The book I mentioned is The Language Web by Jean Aitchison

Also, the Xkcd comic I mentioned: Network

Check my blog for the Erin McKean talk.

shen-an-doah said...

Also, the TED talk by David Pogue I mentioned about simplicity:


Paul Scattergood said...

when will they do a ted talk about alice? wouldnt it just be a dream come true.

There was a lot of writing this week - we must have been talking too much.

i'm going to read about 1000 plateaus now. hurrah


Web Content Writer Nikki May said...

Great read, thanks.

I have recently developed an interest in this concept's theory and research that allows for multiple, non-hierarchical entry and exit points in data representation and interpretation, and in life. I have found the Principles of connection and heterogeneity, multiplicity, asignifying rupture, and cartography and decalcomania very interesting. I am enjoying learning new things on this.

Nikki May
Web Content Writer