Re: [PALEO,LING] ] Re: Language, gesture, etc.

Thomas W. Rimkus (trimkus@COMP.UARK.EDU)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 09:19:42 -0600

On Fri, 16 Feb 1996, Danny Yee wrote:

> Tom Rimkus writes:
> > What is DNA if not grammar?
> If you are going to use "grammar" the way deconstructionists use
> "text", then I guess so. But that would make DNA both grammar and
> text -- indeed it probably makes *everything* both a grammar and a
> text, which makes neither term very useful.
> Danny Yee.
Rather than deconstructionism, I see this issue as an expansionism of the
topic. How are we to understand grammar if we do not expand our vision of the
origin and context of language, to study the support structure and
examples-in-kind which preceeded the development of language in our
humble family?

To attempt to sever the relationship of text to grammar seems to me a difficult
and dangerous path. They are, in both the cases of human language and DNA,
inextricable wound together in the dance/drill of life. The attempts of
formal linguists of early Computer Sciences to divide and conquer (which still
prevails as the only "true path") by divorcing content from context has led to
really minimal success in mechanistic understanding and use of natural
language (which I assume is the goal in that field). Maybe this is because
the two are really simply different manifestations of the same thing, much
like the dual nature of the photon/light wave which so disturbed physicists of
the early part of the century until they recognized "duality". There is a
limit on the understanding to be gained from the study of each of the
individual parts in the void. You may be right, "grammar"
and "text" may very well be useless concepts in some larger sense unless
they are synthesized into a wholistic body of understanding which includes
more than anthropocentrically described categories.

Tom Rimkus
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