"There is a tendency in science to proceed from descriptive methods towards an adequate explanatory theory and then move beyond its conclusions. Our purpose is to discover the concepts of computational efficiency in natural language that exclude redundancy, and to investigate how these relate to more general principles. By developing the idea that linguistic structures possess the features of other biological systems this article focuses on the third factor that enters into the growth of language in the individual. It is suggested that the core principles of grammar can be observed in nature itself."While this is a powerful subject in itself, there are also some interesting facts mentioned within about extreme language structures. It's stated that nouns technically rank higher than verbs universally speaking and this helps explain why the Australian language of Jingulu quite astonishingly has only three true verbs in its vocabulary: "do", "go" and "come". More extreme yet, the Nigerian language Igbo (aka Ibo) has, in place of verbs proper, inherent complement verbs which are made up of -gbá plus a noun (eg. –gbá egwú "to dance", literally "do dance"; –gbá igwè "ride a bicycle", literally "do bicycle"). This confirms my prior impression through my experience with computer programming that verbs are equivalent to "computer functions" that operate on input data (ie. nouns). Nouns then indeed are most primal since one must have data first before any function can operate on it. Nonetheless verbs too are a close second in importance since not much could be expressed without them and likewise not much could be programmed without functions. The interrelationships between language, logic and the qualities that create an adaptive system keeps me busy for hours.
Apr 28, 2012
I found an amazing article called On the nature of syntax (2008) by Alona Soschen who, in a nutshell, uses language as a means to examine possible underlying features common to other adaptive systems. Strangely enough, this intrigues me as a programmer too. To quote the abstract: