On 15 Jul 2015 10:18, "Patrik Austin" <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > > I've also found that universal grammar has been used to refer to three different things > > Anyway, I wish to add a fourth related term: fundamental grammar. There's a particular regular grammar of the type S ‒> aS that generates a language that could be called a fundamental language. The grammar is fundamental to all languages because all formal languages can be derived from this particular grammar by the means of a rule-by-rule expansion (plus presumably any language can be formalised). > > The important part is that although it would be possible to keep creating more and more complex grammars, no matter where we've come, when we go back down the ladder, rule by rule, we'll always end up with the same fundamental grammar. To me this is basically the same as a universal grammar because it can be demonstrated to be the basis of English, Japanese, Riau, Klingon, Lojban, predicate logic and all logically possible formal languages. Hoping I won't regret it, I will risk entering into this discussion again. I don't understand the relevance of so-called 'formal languages' to 'real languages' (by which I mean anything that actually is a language, including conlangs); I don't see what rules for generating strings of letters will tell us about language, or how they could be the basis of English or predicate logic (where predicate logic is distinct from a predicate logic notation). [In saying that I don't understand, I mean to acknowledge that there might be a failure in my understanding, rather than a nonsensicality in the ideas I don't understand, but I'd also say I have a comparatively good understanding of how language works (by 2015 standards), so the failure of understanding is not due merely to general ignorance.] Furthermore -- and here I suppose I may have to blame myself for bothering to repeat myself -- I've made the falsifiable but unrefuted claim that predicate--argument structure is precisely what syntax must minimally consist of (or 'encode'), so we already have a clear idea of what syntax is in its purest form. As for what level of complexity the syntax must have, that depends on whether it must be able to unambiguously accommodate predicate--argument structures of unlimited complexity. A syntax that can do that is way beyond what natlangs can do. But if you simply abandon every requirement for unambiguity, then you could make do with zero syntax, each sentence consisting of nothing but a single predicate, with texts consisting of sequences of such sentences, and predicate--argument structure inferred pragmatically. So the complexity and unambiguity of predicate--argument structure in natlangs is limited but not minimal. And so I don't see how it is possible to ask a meaningful research question about what syntax can minimally be reduced to, beyond the two answers I've given (to whit, the unambiguous syntax is of known complexity, but no natlang is unambiguous, and the ambiguous natlang syntax can be reduced to zero syntax). You may prefer to ignore this intervention, which would be fair enough given that this is not an academic forum. --And.