Saturday, October 20, 2007

Looking For Alternative Gurus

In the paper, C&M mention that a context free grammer can in no way represent the interior of a speaker/hearer, that we have to instead posit something akin to a transformational model. I'm not sure I entirely agree with this. Really, context free-grammars have done quite a bit of work in the NLP domain, and (S -> NP VP) is quite a standard thing to see, and if given enough of the rules with sufficient generatilty to allow for embedding and such, I don't see why this can't cover the range of acceptable sentences in a given language. I mean, do we really need transformations? We've gotten rid of D- and S- structure, so why not dispense with the entire paradigm? There are theories out there that do with out such frivoloties. Shouldn't we as informed consumers expand our intake and shop around? Quite frankly, if it's the goal of this class to critique the foundations of the Generative enterprise, shouldn't we be reading actual critiques? Lakoff, Pollard and Sag...."Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things" is actually a great read. I just don't think rehashing what Chomsky has to say will give us any insight into the potential flaws of the discipline that maybe others with alternative formulations may have already noticed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday lulz: the computations of fashion

From Legal Theory Blog (hat tip Sullivan).

The relevant quote for us:

The reason why analytic philosophers (and similarly mathematicians and cognitive scientists) have a difficult time dressing themselves or dress poorly is that the satisfaction of any sentence involving the "goes with" relation is not finitely decidable. There is no algorithm by which one can in a finite amount of time, much less in the morning before you are too late for class, decide with deductive certainty whether an outfit is sharp and properly accessorized. Now, there are rules which by which we can rule out entire classes of ordered pairs, e.g., let x be a member of the class of checked clothing and y be a member of the class of striped clothing, it is fairly trivial to show that for all such x and all such y, Gxy must be false (I leave it as an exercise to the reader to provide a proof). But for the general case there is no finitely executable decision procedure such that for any two arbitrary articles of clothing one may determine the satisfaction of G.