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From: Grant Callaghan (
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    >Hi Randy
    > > Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2002 15:45:35 -0500
    > > From: rmey4892 <>
    > > Subject: [none]
    > >
    > > Funny,
    > >
    > > I just picked up Chomsky's syntactic structures at the library, and I
    > > come to think that his view is not all that dissimilar from my view in
    > > memetics? I suppose I have some silly hope that memetics lies half way
    > > Chomsky and Darwin, providing a bridge that brings quantitativeness into
    > > social sciences. Perhaps this is naive, but I have begun to form some
    > > opinions, entirlely unfounded of course, on the subject.
    > >
    > > I have begun to wonder if grammar developed because there is simply no
    > > way to convey meaningful information. Think of the most simple sentence
    > > can. It might be "the dog ate the cat" and throw away the articles since
    > > are mere convention. you are left with "dog eat cat"...Subject, verb,
    > > object. Now, you have two nouns, both observable using sensory apparatus
    > > can, obviously and intuitively, store images in the brain. This is a
    > > simply because I can recall an image of a cat or dog just by simply
    > > that it were so (right now I am thinking of a big steak
    > > hungry.... but this is besides the point). So nouns, or objects
    >perceived in
    > > the real world with a given genetic basis in the organs that have been
    > > through neo-darwinian processes, can thus be recognized and stored and
    > > categorized into what arises as the label "dog" or "cat". I can think of
    > > several dog's or cats, all dissimilar from one another but recognizably
    > > same concept (a concept agreed upon by any astute observer that is
    > > with biological diversity, or exposed to the meme by others who know
    > > bio-diversity).
    > >
    > > you see, the dog or cat cannot be "understood" without an innate
    >concept, that
    > > what we see is a real item in nature. Then there is an innate concept of
    > > "real", an "existence meme" as I prefer to call it. Language, utilizes
    > > innate concepts to make a sentence in its simplest form S.---V.---D.O.
    >So what
    > > about the verb. Here I will argue that that too is an innate concept
    >since it
    > > arises from short term memory and pattern recognition. A pattern is
    > > stored and labelled. We can see that most animals can perceive of
    >actions such
    > > as "eat", though some animals with shorter memories cannot place the
    > > as a universal one that has been encountered in the past and is
    >deserving of a
    > > label.this labelled stored memory of an action pattern, I would all a
    > > "transient-state meme"
    > >
    > > So in fact the simplest sentence could be "EAT!" as a command with "you"
    > > understood and "the food" as the understood D.O. Sentences would not
    > > arisen in the first place if they did not serve a function. This
    >function is
    > > to take information from perceptive apparatus, store it, label it, and
    > > it to others who are capable of conceiving of pattern and existence.
    >It may well have been. It is important to remember the other aspects of
    >language. I.e. The non vocal which expands even EAT into many forms, such
    >EAT? (an invite possibly) EAT? (an enquiry) EAT? (an expression of concern
    >when someone is ill and not eating). Each expression of EAT? Would be
    >accompanied by the appropriate kinesthetic, facial expression and proxemics
    >appropriate to the situation and are just as important as the
    >In some respects, the non-vocalisations are part of the grammar. After all
    >we may have spent much of our evolutionary history as a non vocal species.
    > >
    > > My dog sees me put my shoes on and he goes and sits at the door. He is
    > > doubt anticipating sticking his head out my window going 30 mph down the
    > > strip to the pet store (well maybe not the pet store, but he knows he
    >wants to
    > > go and its not a simple good-bad response, since that same car can take
    >him to
    > > the vet). another thing that brings him running from the other room is
    > > jingle of my car keys. When I tell him to "Sit", he understands the
    > > "I desire that you should sit, and perhaps you'll get a cookie", or some
    > > approximation (At the very least "I want you to sit").
    > >
    > > This all, perhaps, smacks of skinner's behaviorism, but since I am
    > > with the intricacies of that school of thought i cannot be sure it is
    >the same
    > > thing.
    >Pavlov to my mind. Also, it may be that your dog understand the context not
    >the command. If you know Pavlov, my apologies for the next bit, but Pavlov
    >showed that by using a reward withold sytem he could control the responses
    >of dogs. Every time they were about to be fed a bell rang and then they
    >fed. Eventually, the dogs would salivate even though they got no food
    >IIRC, Skinner took this further and thought that all creatures, us included
    >are just a set of conditioned responses to the enviroment we find ourselves
    >in. Apparently many of the reductionist soicobiologists still find his
    > > It just appeared a way to get to memes, half-way between language and
    > > Genes.
    > >
    > > just a thought to chew on, guys. your criticism is welcome.
    > >
    > > Randy

    One thing we do with language that is completely non-skinnerian is that we
    paint pictures with it. A sentence works for us because, in most cases, the
    speaker or writer uses the power of words to paint a picture in the mind of
    the listener or reader. How can we do this? It is the key to our ability
    to pass memes and other information from one person to another.

    The vocabulary, grammar and syntax are like the hammer, saw, wood and nails
    we use to build a house. Just by studying the tools you will not understand
    how the house came into existence. By the same token, the study of grammar
    and syntax will not make you a writer nor develop in you the skill of
    turning words into mind pictures. Only the study of what other writers have
    done and attempting to do it yourself will accomplish that. That's why I
    say language is a collection of memes and the memes are tools we use to
    construct words, sentences, stories and pictures that we can pass from one
    mind to another. A knowledge of grammar and syntax, morphemes. syllables
    and all the other language tools is necessary but not sufficient to play the
    game of language.

    I would compare it to the fact that just knowing the values of the cards and
    the rules of the game of poker is not sufficient to become a skilled poker
    player. Knowing how to bet, how to bluff, and how to read the faces of
    other players are also necessary -- but even these are not sufficient. A
    small library of books has been written on the subject and there is still
    more to write that has not yet been written.

    The difference between games like poker and language is that poker is
    codified and frozen in place with rules that change even more slowly than
    genes. Language is a wild and crazy game in which we create new rules on
    the fly. The minute you try to codify the rules, you find yourself
    describing a point in time that has already been left behind and your set of
    rules are incomplete because new ones have been created and old ones
    dropped. That's pretty much the same thing that happens with memes and is
    one of the reasons memetics is so hard to study and write about.

    The minute you start reducing it to a code or a set of rules, you will find
    yourself chasing the rainbow. You will never find the point where it
    touches the ground and there is no pot of gold there, either. And like the
    rainbow, it only exists in the eye of the beholder. No two people perceive
    the same rainbow or the same language. It's a shared illusion that we do.
    But that illusion enables us to communicate with one another.

    The picture I paint with my words will not look the same to my mind as it
    does to yours. But there will be enough similarity that we will think we
    are talking about the same thing. A close examination of the process will
    often show that we are not.



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