Publication 1336

Glasersfeld E. von (1977) The Yerkish language and its automatic parser. In: Rumbaugh D. M. (ed.) Language learning by a chimpanzee. Academic Press, New York: 91–130. Fulltext at
Excerpt: Yerkish is an artificial language that was designed for the specific purpose of exploring the linguistic potential of nonhuman primates. It was designed under a number of constraints, both theoretical and practical. In what follows I shall try to show which aspects of the language were determined by these initial practical constraints and which by the theory underlying its design. Since the language was created at the same time as the computer system that monitors all the communication events for which it is used, there will inevitably be some overlap in the description of the language and that of the automatic sentence analyzer, or parser. Also, since the grammar we are using is a correlational grammar, i.e., one that takes into account the semantic aspects of combinatorial patterns (unlike traditional systems of grammar, which tend to consider syntactic structures quite apart from semantics), the description of the lexicon and that of the grammar will have to merge at several points. Nevertheless, this chapter will be articulated into relatively independent sections dealing with the word signs (lexigrams), the meaning and grammatical classification of word signs, combinatorial patterns, the parsing system, and, finally, a brief application of the concept of grammatical ity to a sample of Lana’s output.
Key words: language, chimpanse


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