User:Anna Wierzbicka

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An Australian researcher developing the theory of semantic primes in the form of NSM (Natural Semantic Metalanguage).

  • la gleki:
    • There is no such thing as semantic primes. There is a set of cognitive subsets of concepts. Here are some cognitive subsets:
      • "direction/location". Any language must have at least one realization: absolute direction (north, south, east, west), relative direction (left-right-up-down), ego-centric direction (in front of, at the back etc.)
    • Each subset is fuzzy. Any language must have a certain amount of members in each subset.
    • Wierzbicka's NSM seems to be slowly disproved. Namely, Wierzbicka says there must be "past/present/future" primes in any language which is false. Actually even English has no future. "Will", "shall" are verbs in present tense. Also Yucatec language has no category of absolute or relative tense, nor words like "before, after, until". Even Mandarin doesn't use tense until you need extra precision. Some Turkic language have no word for yesterday and instead use extremely vague "that day". The example with Guugu Yimithirr clearly shows that some cognitive subsets can't be converted to cognitive subsets in other languages. Mixing all of them in one language is not how natural languages work. Pragmatism doesn't allow them to be super-flexible like Lojban.
  • nitcion:
    • .i la nitcion ba'e se spaji .i mi djuno ledu'u la .uitbiks. xajmi cmene la viej.bitskas kei ki'u lenu mi tirna vo'e necu'u lei se ctuca be la viej.bitskas. .i ku'i na'ebomi jmina le tcita .i xu mi casnu la'edi'u vecu'u le jbomriste ?
    • And Rosta:
      • I don't know, but I can't think how else I would know that it's "Weetbix", because I and my fellow British frivolists say "Weetabix".
      • It's a bit surprising someone created this page, because I'm not aware of her work being discussed much on Lojban list. At any rate, she prolifically publishes regarding her theory that all semantics can be reduced to a very small and definite inventory of primitives. From a purely linguistics point of view, her work is outstandingly bad, but from a conlang and particularly a loglang or engelang point of view it is of much more interest than most work in linguistics.
    • nitcion:
      • Furthermore, her contention is that semantics can be so reduced using a metalanguage that looks like a real language - Natural Semantic Metalanguage. Hence her students (at Australian National University in Canberra) merrily amusing themselves and others with expressions like "I do something bad. I feel something bad because of this. Someone thinks it is something good that I feel something bad because of this."
      • In my own professional opinion :-) her early work is outstandingly good (particularly the dictionary of Speech Act verbs); but the more she's tried to make the metalanguage more natural (the primitives have gone up from 12 to around 80; and there's never been a well-defined syntax to go along with it), the messier it becomes.


Wierzbicka and NSM has been mentioned on the mailing list, almost always by Nick Nicholas: