On Computational and Chomskyan Linguistic Theory

Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay 


Indian Statistical Institute

July 11, 1997

Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Vol. XXIII, No. 2, pp. 29-42, 1997 

Abstract:      
This is an imagined dialogic paper on the problems of perceiving creative speaking/hearing subjects’ corporeal as machine. The author alleged that the one of the basic tenets in Chomsky’s discourse, due to its Cartesian inheritance, was to consider human body as a machine, thus Chomskian syntactic enterprise had become a part of the anatomo-bio-political project a la Foucault. It was a case of minimization, approximation, optimization, appropriation of human body, when Chomsky and his fellowmen (like Lasnik, Berwick) deployed technocratic metaphors (e.g., the terms like “Computation”, “array” “interface”, “parser” etc. on the other hand, operations like “COMMAND”, “SATISFY”, “SPELL OUT”. All these operations reflect the metonymic transformation of creative speaking subject as all these functions in uppercase letter made the author remember Schank’s [1975] language-free representations [PROPEL, MOVE, INGEST or CONTROL, PART etc.], which combine primitive conceptual roles and categories.) for explaining a part of cognitive domain, that is a “physical organ”: LAD. These were not metaphors or case of displacement only, but was a case of metonymic condensation of human body as these technical metaphors condense the scope of human (linguistic) potentiality. Does human body follow binary mechanical algorithm only at the moment of speaking? Do we not have extra-/non-algorithmic cognitive ability? (The author’s point is that Cognitive Domain is not algorithmic only.) The discourse that Chomskians are using is fully algocentric (a discourse that is motivated by meta-mathematical formalism or computational algorithmic simulation guided by the technical rationality, ignoring the non-algorithmic constitutive rules) in its nature. According to author’s perception, Chomsky wanted to build up a Turing Machine for solving each linguistic problem without solving the halting problem of the machine. Chomsky’s parametric approach was “computer-friendly” as language was now perceived as a network of interlocking principles and parsing as linear steps. A parser would supply, in the same manner of Searle’s Chinese Room Puzzle, “yes/no answers” to the question: “Is this sentence grammatical?”. One can switch over from one parameter to another to manage a specific language like a machine (it seemed to the author that this was a Leibnizian Turn in Chomskian Theory; he was switching over from Cartesian Cogito to Monad – Universal of all universals – Monad of all monads – Principle of parameters) In fact, the language is not only governed by either procedural or parametric principles, but there are constitutive non-formal principles.

This paper also discussed the problems of Computational Linguistics in connection with Indian plurilingual milieu. 

COLOPHON: The author is thankful to Prof. N. Chomsky as he answered all these questions with patience and promised to drop the term “computation” from the technical vocabulary of syntax as he wrote, “On the use of computers as a metaphor, I actually rare do, and I’ve been pretty explicit in warning that the metaphor isn’t to be taken too seriously. Like any metaphor, if it helps clarify thought and stimulates imagination, fine; if it leads to error, as this one constantly has, then drop it.” (personal correspondence, 13/2/1995).

 

Number of Pages in PDF File: 14

Keywords: algocentric discourse, anatomo-bio-political project, technocratic metaphors as metonyms, Turing Machine, Leibnizian Turn

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About Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay

Debaprasad Bandyopdhyay (b. 1965), through his 25 years journey in the realm of institutionalized academics did 27 different types of works, which are someway different from the earlier paradigms or, one might say that those works are not only mere reproductions of his inherited institutionalized cultural capital or a mimicry of a colonially imposed model that leads to intellectual anorexia or rather a type falsification of earlier paradigms. However, that might be not only a lofty claim but it also hid the fact that all our information and knowledge are socially accumulated knowledge that was, it is matter of regret, posed as private property through the sign © and the wisdom is rarely available. Bandyopadhyay’s works and projects are the products of his social milieu. Bandyopadhyay is a local sub-altern public sphere academician, who avoids the technical intelligentsia (followers of Sahib’s models and they are not committed to the persons who are accommodating surplus work-time to them by performing surplus labour) or inorganic intellectuals and thus fails to be a part of academic tribe and its subsequent socialization process. Of course, that socialization process does not lead to legendary Socratic dialogue. He is also a political activist though he has not affiliated to any political parties as he was always talking about the corporatization of political parties within the money-sign-based democratic system. He is a regular participant in TV and radio talk-shows and documentary films, street-corners’ talks and International seminars on socio-political, psychological, linguistic, environmental and economic issues. He also writes editorial columns in newspapers. He is also a part of parallel academics as it is found in West Bengal’s Little Magazine Movement, though that was not counted as the part his academic pursuit by his parent institute. His parent institute justifiably does not believe in the domain of parallel academics as this unorganized sector does not directly contribute in the transactions of formal/organized print capitalist eco-enemy paper-publication. Though the dissemination of knowledge is also observed in this space of these parallel academics as all these writings in public sphere simultaneously influence the classroom-discourse and some of them are translated into English, French and Italian. Not only that, Bandyopadhyay also sought engagement with the people, who, by supplying their surplus labour, are sustaining his livelihood. Bandyopadhyay, a linguist by training and a Ph.D.-holder (1996), a junior lecturer (1999-2011) in an autonomous central government institute in India, tries his best for those from he has received and is receiving the manifestation of surplus labour by executing some self-funded projects on economic issues in West Bengal, India. Recently he has got a consolation promotion to the post of Assistant Professor. He has done following 27 research works: 1. Crippled Creativity: An inquiry into language, psyche, society: 2. VALENCY OF BANGLA VERB AND PROBLEM OF COMPOUND VERBS: 3. Archaeology of Bangla Grammar : 4. CAN COMPUTER SPEAK? 5. FUZZY LOGICAL EXPRESSION IN BANGLA : 6. FOLKLORE AND FOLK-LANGUAGE: MYTH OR REALITY? 7. HISTORICISM IN THE DISCOURSE OF BANGLA LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 8. ABHABA, ECP, DELETION AND TRACE 9. SVATVA OR MY-NESS AND ECONOMIC ENTITLEMEMT 10. TRANSLATION STUDIES 11. MASCULINITY STUDIES 12. YAYATI & BABAR COMPLEX 13. SOCIO-ECONOMIC SURVEYS IN AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY IN WEST BENGAL 14. CONCEPT OF BODY IN INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND ARCHITECTURE 15. THE CONCEPT OF ERROR (KHYATI) IN MAD-(WO)MEN’S LANGUAGE 16. THE CONCEPT OF PERCEPTUAL TIME AND GRAMMATICAL TIME IN BANGLA 17. BANGLA CALLIGRAPHY, LANGUAGE ART AND LINGUISTIC PEDAGOGY 18. WO(L)D SPACES: NON-EXISTENCE OF WORDS 19. ANEKANTA METHODS 20. SILENCEME: SILENT OTHER IN LINGUISTICS 21. IMAGINED BOUDARIES AND PRE-COLONIAL INDIAN IMAGI-NATION 22. MAKING OF THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE 23. SEGMENTING THE SUPRASEGMENTALS : MUSICKING IN SPEAKING 24. INTERPRETING GENETIC STRUCTURE BY DEPLOYING LINGUISTIC STRUCTURE 25. GLOTTOPOLITICS OF LINGUISTIC SUBALTERNITY OR AN AGENDA FOR PLANNING FROM BELOW 26. SEMIOTICS OF PHOTOGRAPHY 27. SOCIOLOGY OF CONTEMPORARY ACADEMICS
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One Response to On Computational and Chomskyan Linguistic Theory

  1. Pingback: Language, expectations, and the realm of possibility « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

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