the basic mission

A little bit of phonology, to, I dunno, lighten the tone.

“The incommensurability between discrete and continuous time is surely one reason why linguists often consider most cognitive disciplines outside linguistics to be irrelevant (e.g. experimental psychology, neuroscience, and experimental phonetics). They may assume that these time-dependent fields can have no direct impact on language, a pure symbol system. (Of course, the discrete subdisciplines of mathematics and logic are taken seriously indeed.) Correspondingly, this is why scientists from many other disciplines have great difficulty understanding the basic mission that linguistics has taken on. If one believes that cognitive and linguistic events could not, in fact, exhibit symptoms of existence either in space or time, then, since real physical and physiological events do, there is no way to make them fit together.”

Port & Leary (2005), ‘Against formal phonology.’ Language 81: 927-964

4 thoughts on “the basic mission

  1. It’s a v interesting article actually :) They discuss all sorts of problems that (they argue) are impossible for formal models to handle, in addition to this problem of how the dynamic and time-dependent nature of natural language can be modelled – not just that existing formal models need to be modified, but actually abandoned. Thought-provoking stuff.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s