# Language and the Brain (class)

fall 2021 classes

## Class 1

• What do linguists do?
• Linguists as part of cognitive science
• There exists some sentences of setnences such that it allows for recursive composition
• So once we setup the idea that English cannot be a FSM, what is the data?
• Langauges that use case markings
• case markings allow it to mtaintain a more consistent structure modulo case marking
• chomsky is unconcerned with the statistical metadata that arises from a corpus
• “internalist” - grammars and structures within a single sentence
• “externalist” - set of sentences within a corpus
• for sentences to make sense, we assign a phoronlogical structure to pronounce sentences
• which then means a sentence makes sense iff:
• syntax (chomsky is here) is correct
• phoronological sufficent (this can be derived from statistics)
• “there exists a faculty of language” - but is there a single faculty of langauge

## Class 2 - 9/13

• what is the neo-durkheimian relationship between langauge and thought?
• is language just a set of sentences?
• in the 70’s, they thought that sentences are a sequence of words or sounds
• what does this leave out? -> hidden syntax and semantics
• syntax cannot directly be seen
• semantics sometimes contain a truth value
• oftentimes this forms the $$\{form/sound, meaning\}$$
• chomsky identified this as a triplet of $$\{form, syntax, meaning\}$$
• sentences in english are infinite due to recursion (aka not finite structured)_
• chomsky also distinguished between “lists” and “conjunctions”
• lists as $$\mathbb{N}$$
• however, langauge (or at least english) is “uninterestingly” infinite
• as you push further out and generate more sentences, the sentences themselves become regularized
• for chomsky, grammar is the compression of language, and if you memorize words you can generate an infinite set of sentences
• also must make a distinction between “actual” and “potential”
• “actual” sentences are bound by the maximum speaker time or computation time
• “potential” sentences are the infinite set of all sentences generatable
• what are the grammatical rules for telling us if a word is an actual word?
• “moak” -> is this a word?
• we have grammars to say this is a potential word, but to reject a word, we actually do a semi-exhaustive search through our internal dictionaries to find out
• some words enter the vernacular after it is used
• “jabberwocky”, for example
• how do we distinguish words that are archaeic/low frequency from words that are incorrect?
• what was the theory of cognitive science before the 60’s?
• behavioralism
• learning is the intentional modification of the environment in order to produce different future behaviors
• what is actually being “learned” when you acquire a langauge?
• a child does not do a blind word/object association (i.e. this is a ball)
• the faculty of langauge extends beyond this into “teaching” or “learning” a grammar and a generative capacity
• grammars have variance built in

## Class 3 - 9/15

• Mendel’s laws - laws of inheritances that require abstract concepts like genes
• organized in such a way that gives rise to laws
• linguistic laws
• grimm’s law - stated in terms of independent sounds - phonemes
• werner’s law
• before these system laws, the idea that sound changes happened consistently/completely across langauges
• when chomsky says linguistics as a cognitive science
• this is not to reject the generalization finding tools
• dan everett - linguist in piraha
• no recursion in this language
• he proposes it comes from culture
• many things are understood about linguistics via numbers and color systems
• how to understand rules?
• through the enforcement of cultural roles
• how are the roles communicated and enforced?
• what happens if you violate it?
• studies about generalizablity of specific groups have never been totally innocent - largely driven by social policy
• does grimm’s law focus on the right things?
• are phonemes the correct unit of generalization?
• the persuasion of a generalization lies in the correlation of its properties
• future is tied up with the concept of “irrealis”
• modals, conditions
• future
• counterfactuals
• future tense does not seem to be a a fundalmental building blocks of language
• present tense is a mess because stateive and others
• grimm’s laws are simple, but the explanation could be complicated
• “laws” of languages often end up generalizing idiosyncratic effects to that languge
• anthropoligists suggest that systematic study of langauge by pieces that exhibit discontinuities reflect culture
• is culture downstream of langauge?
• compositionality
• meaning is composition
• labels can be generated from the hash of meaning
• label is the form/shape/demarker of the word?

## Class 5 - 9/22

• Is phornology finite state?
• is it less powerful than finite state?
• why do we care where in the brain something happens
• it matters how the brain recongizes faces, but to do so, we must first learn where
• jakobson
• invariance
• /t/ - phoneme, slashes denote an obstruct t
• /t/ - goes into $$[t^h]$$ (as in “top”) and $$[t]$$ (as in “stop”, this doesn’t actually exist in mandarin)
• the other inviariance is when you have two different phonemmes, but how do we know what the nominative case is?
• Jakobson says it is meaning
• the features are semantic ones
• therefore, it was incorrect to think of this as the level of the phoneme, but rather we should look at it from the meaning
• internal/eternal
• prinicple of contrast
• example: “top” vs “(t^)hop” - your pronouncation of “t” does not change the menaining, therefore the asperation is not used to define meaning
• feature grounding - in terms of articulation, Jakobson thought we should use acoustics (wrong)
• paper fights with sausser
• meaning is distinct because it arises from the rest of the words
• cat vs dog, elephant, etc
• sausser says language is ungrounded and that it arises from scarcity
• it is because meaning can be generated through differences, like a hash function
• what does the invariance come from?
• jakobson is still a version of structuralism
• are word embeddings structuralist?
• quine - early sentence embeddings -> the context is what matters, the company it keeps
• possiblies of derivational frequencies
• derevational family entropy says there is neural reponse
• why do generalizations happen in suffixes in english?

## Class 6 - 9/27

• Standard linguistics metholdogy is the method of contrast principles
• contrast structures that are parallels
• examples:
Toler- Teach- Clash
tolerant (adj) teach (/) Clash (noun)
tolerance (noun) teach Clash (verb)
tolerate (verb)
• the (/) suffix is somethimes null, which contrasts with the existence sometimes
• sometimes the metholodgy tells you the suffix is null
• we have entropy/uncertainty over the continuities, called derivational family entropy
• derivational family entropy on mandarin?
• example:
• unflush(/) - no
• unflushable - yes
• why does (un) require a suffix?
• what does linguistics look like with implementation within the brain?
• context free - a sentence consists of a noun phrase and a verb phrase
• case markings - NP-> NPACC/v-
• when a noun phrase is accusative when its next to a verb, which are context sensitive
• A context free grammar cannot be duplicated. Lanugages like Yoruba which exhibits duplication, “buildhouse-buildhouse” -> builder
• Swiss german is the only clear examples of midly context-sensitive
• Context-free is recursive (no memory)
• for some languages, context sensitivy is used only for certain features, like reduplication in Yoruba
• why is this a problem?
• this points to an issue where human langauges have certain mathematical properties that map to the brain
• langauges are not evenly distributed between context free & context sensitive distribution
• maybe we can’t process certain context sensitivity
• finite -> computablably enumerable are rough categories
• pholonogy is theorized to be subregular
• morpohology and syntax are much more complicated

## Class 7 - 9/29

• repetition implies context sensitivty
• does english have similar properties?
• np by np construction
• “dog after dog” is different than “little by little”
• little by little is not a noun phrase
• noun phrases are potentially infinite
• heinz and isardi claim that phronology is sub-regular
• constraints on grammar
• generally deal with locality
• grammar trees can show you how things block locality
• regular, natural, and CFG’s circle layering
• stabler
• for each grammar of a specific type (MC) there eixists an efficient parser
• stabler - subregularity of syntax gives you constraints on languages
• some sentences cannot be extracted from subject and adjunct
• called CED by J Huang
• for langauges can do subextraction from subject
• example: “what did pictures of fall on Fred” -> “what” must be extracted from subject
• merge ops
• even if you limit ones to subregular, the merge operations does whatever you want
• noun-phrase is equivilant to a noun-prep phrase, since a noun-phrase is a merge of noun-prep
• let us assume subregular grammar math is the math used for human language -> formal universal
• langauges have nouns and verbs as invariants -> Jakobson
• Stabler sees that we parse strings of words: word by word
• do you
• generate sentences on your own until you find a match?
• inefficient and non-deterministic
• since we do not wait until the end of a sentence before parsing it, model a sentence interpretation as a probability distribution that’s incremental
• lineraly porportional to the number of words
• using the finite set of words and finite set of rules: the cross product of both gives you the search space