On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 5:43 PM, And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> If we assume that the parsing of human natlangs is meaningfully
>> stack-based, though, we can still observe that whatever the stack
>> manipulation rules are, they must be far more complicated than those
>> of Fith, seeing as how we know how to program a computer to parse Fith
>> perfectly, but not English.
> I don't see the logic behind this reasoning. The reason why we don't know
> how to program a computer to parse English perfectly is in large part due to
> us not knowing what the rules of English are, what the structure of English
> sentences is (and then partly that stuff like general knowledge appears to
> be able to guide disambiguation, so the full parsing process requires the
> full array of powers of the mind).

Precisely. We cannot enumerate all of the relevant rules of English,
particularly not in just a few pages, and more particularly not in a
form that a computer can execute. We can do so with Fith. This is
evidence that English is much more complex than Fith.

> But why does this entail that there are
> complex stack manipulation rules. Rather, it looks as tho the stack is dead
> simple, with no fancy manipulation rules, but that the bit of processing
> that uses it is only a small part of the overall mechanism.

Very well; the complexity is in the interpretation of the abstract
syntax tree, having left the stack behind, then. That just makes the
point stronger- Fith gives no evidence of requiring any further
interpretation once a structure is removed from the stack. If English
does, then we've potentially isolated the regime in which human mental
powers exceed those of Fithians.

>> This is evidence that in some way human
>> processing capacities are stronger than Fithians',
> I'm afraid I know too little of Fithians' capacities to be able to comment.
> All I know about Fithians is that they have powerful working memories. All I
> know about Fith is that it looks pretty much like a natural language except
> for these utterly un-natlanglike stack-manipulation conjunctions.

Their grammar is simpler than ours. It's missing a lot of the
complexity- a lot of the *types* of complexity -that are demonstrated
in human language. So, why are they missing features that we have? A
simple explanation in the absence of any other data on Fithians is
that they don't use languages like ours because it's difficult for
them, just as stack conjunctions are difficult for us. Thus, we have
some capacities that are stronger than Fithians'. It's not proof, but

> My claim is that it is the structure of the audibilia tree, including the
> number of terminal nodes, that influences the processing cost. So the
> problem with Palno is not that there is only one kind of syntactic object or
> operation, but rather than there are too many object and operation instances
> in surface syntax. I'll say a bit more in the other thread another time.

I don't see how those can be uncorrelated. Fewer types of operations =
less information encoded per operation = more operation instances. Too
many instances of operations in surface syntax is not a quality that
makes Palno sentences difficult; it's a quality that makes sentences
in any language difficult. But it's the lack of fundamental operations
that causes that quality to be manifested.

As far as I can tell, the same argument applies to Fith.

Perhaps you can explain why you see a disjunction between the number
of operation types available and the number of instances in surface