Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the big idea

I've been working on a Big Idea in the back of my head for a few weeks now. I call it the LIMIT model of language, which stands for Language as Integrated Motion in Time.

I've always been rather good at writing prologues to stories and mediocre at following through. I just wrote the intro to my idea and it has a nice ring to it.

LIMIT: Language as Integrated Motion in Time

This is a work of synthesis. The method was this: First, there's a goal. The goal originates from the simple thesis that time is a critical component of cognition, and that time must be a component of any understanding of our knowledge of language. The goal was then to discover how to stop saying that bits of language are to the left and right of each other and profitably say that they are before and after. Next, it examines available research programs, selecting the ones that most benefit that goal. As such, it is an active selection, not a passive one. Then, it modifies those research programs to make as coherent of a whole as could be achieved when they are integrated. The research programs that are used, then, are not taken as wholes, but shaped and modified to fit the purpose. Finally, a set of predictions is made based upon this integrated model.

I go through this explication of synthesis, because this process is also the model itself. Language is created through a set of parallel mental components, each with its own goals, that integrate information from other components in a way relevant to itself, and then each process builds an expectation for the future based upon this integrated information. This process is continuous and time-dependent. In sum, a language is integrated motion in time.

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