[b-greek] Re: Discreet vs prototypical categorization

From: clayton stirling bartholomew (c.s.bartholomew@worldnet.att.net)
Date: Sat Oct 21 2000 - 13:32:42 EDT

on 10/21/00 12:19 AM, Kimmo Huovila wrote:

> Fuzziness implies scalarity, right? I am not sure what you mean here.


We agree on a lot of things but this is where we part ways. Fuzziness IMHO
does NOT imply scalarity. Let me use two illustrations one drawn from Greek
phonology and another from telecommunications.

In Greek phonology there are a number of distinctions that might have been
quite fuzzy in the spoken language. Take the distinction between C/K or
perhaps S/Z or O/W, or A/H/EI. These are just a few examples. These
distinctions may be fuzzy in spoken language but the phonological categories
are still discrete. There is important information bound up with these
distinctions and to treat them as scalars is going to get you into big

Another example:

Most of us use modems to talk on the b-greek list, right? A modem* is faced
with the problem of sending and receiving digital data, 0's and 1's using an
analog technology which is not particularly suited for digital information.
When the modem reads the incoming data, the difference between a zero and a
one is actually quite fuzzy but it is most definitely not a scalar
phenomenon. If the modem fails to translate the rather fuzzy incoming
pattern into discrete categories then the whole system breaks down.

I think that semantic/pragmatic categories can be fuzzy at the edges and
still be used to represent discrete semantic/pragmatic features of the
language. I think that we will find that all semantic/pragmatic categories
are fuzzy but not all are scalar.

In short, I do not think that fuzziness implies scalarity.

Clayton Stirling Bartholomew
Three Tree Point
P.O. Box 255 Seahurst WA 98062

*This modem information is 15-20 years old so think of it as a metaphor and
not a current description of modem technology.

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