Resources for Communication Problems

Saturday, January 26, 2008



語聽二 第三組 9580019 詹心妤

P273 ~ P275

How does an adult speaker of English decide on the matter of grammatical structure? Certainly not by estimating the probability of occurrence of the sentence as a whole , because sentence (1) as well as sentence (2) had a zero probability of occurrence before Chomsky made them famous . Thus the difference between (1) and (2), which is fairly obvious to most speakers of English , can not be due to a difference in transitional probabilities of individual words (see also Miller , Galanter and Pribram , 1960) . Jenkins and Palermo (1964)*sought to account for the interpretative difference between the two sentences by postulating transitional probabilities between parts of speech . If this were so , speakers of English would always perceive a chain consisting of adjective , noun , verb , and adverb as grammatical , whereas the reverse order should result in the perception of grammatical chaos . But take the sentences (3) occasionally call warfare useless and (4) useless warfare call occasionally

String (3) might occur in an instruction booklet on pacifistic rhetoric ; it is judged to be grammatical , and it is susceptible to semantic interpretation . None of this is true of (4) . But the order of parts of speech of (3) is that of the ungrammatical string (2) , whereas the grammatical string (1) has the order of (4) . Clearly , the transitional probability of parts of speech is irrelevant either to our understanding of grammar or to semantic interpretation of a sentence . Nor is it possible to assume that the order of morphemes –less , -s , -ly determines grammaticalness because the sentence

(5) Friendly young dogs seem harmless .

orders these morphemes as in (2) , not (1) .

One of the many problems that an infant who is learning to speak must face is the fact that the meaning of individual words can not ordinarily give a clue to the meaning of a sentence . This is easily seen by citing such sentences as

(6) The fox chases the dog .


(7) The dog chases the fox .

The complexities involved in understanding sentences may be further illustrated by the sentence

(8) The dog is chased by the fox

which is understood as having the same meaning as (6) even though the order of subject and object is that of (7) .

Once more it is tempting to explain our understanding of the grammar of these sentences by postulating a simple chain of uni-directional associations between elements .For instance ,take a sentence in which the first noun-phrase is the subject ; here we learn to expect this noun-phrase to be followed by another noun-phrase that serves as object , except if the noun-phrase is followed by an is , the verb by an –ed and the verb-phrase by the word by ; when these morphemes appear , they would signal the reversal of subject and object . Again , the source for our interpretation of the meaning of a sentence must be due to a deeper understanding of grammatical structure than these rules would indicate . The sentence

(9) The fox is interested by virtue of his nature in chasing the dog may not be elegant and even contrary to fact ; but it is a grammatical string , and its meaning is associated more closely to (6)than to (7) , showing that morphemes do not have the same function in a sentence as , for example , a verbal stimulus in a word-association task . Word association seems to be irrelevant to that process of grammatical analysis which must be performed by ever speaker and language-acquiring infant .

If phonology and syntax pose many unsolved problems , the association between words and things is by no means less difficult to understand . A great number of different words occur in physical and temporal contiguity with one phenomenon (say a dog ) ; some example are : “ wow-wow , ” bark , naughty , dog , big , up on the … , careful . etc . On the other hand , one and the same word , for instance , “ bye-bye ”(or up , or good , or truck ) , may occur in the presence of constantly changing physical stimulus configurations . Why is the child not confused by this ?

We cannot help but wonder how an infant at little over one year of age can ever learn to understand and produce this behavior . the number of articles and books that deal with the development of language goes up into the thousands . But only few authors have seen that there is a formidable and totally unsolved problem here . How does the child develop language ? To say vaguely that it must be discrimination learning , secondary reinforcement , or stimulus generalization does not bring us any closer to a solution , because it is not at all clear what has to be discriminated or what is generalized from or to , nor is it clear what is being reinforced , when and how . Oversimplifications , and even representations that are blatantly contrary to observable facts regarding the nature of language , have often led to explanations for language learning that rest on nothing but fiction .

The problems involved in language development cannot be understood in the absence of an analysis of the structure of language ; and it is quite possible that the proper understanding of language structure is dependent upon empirical investigations into the acquisition process .




1. 維基百科

2. 無敵 CD-818 電子辭典

No comments: