Challenging two of Chomsky’s claims

Chomsky says that language did not evolve for communication, but for internal thought.Lets see how this can be challenged.

To begin with, I can make my own language, from the outset. Suppose we didn’t have the English language the way we have it now. Lets construct an English. Here is how it goes – Take any two things connected by a relation between them. For example, if John went to the store, the 2 things – John and store – are connected by the connection ‘went’. Now, write the 3 things in order – first, the first thing, then the second thing and then the connection (exercised by the first on the second) between the 2 things. So my “sentence” becomes ‘John store went’. This is my legitimate sentence in my English. Similarly, I can write – John pen writing. John ball playing. Cupboard floor standing……etc.

The above shows that I can make any such language of my choice with my own rules, BUT the condition being that there has to be an underlying concept of reality to base it upon. In the above case, the underlying conceptual basis was – 2 entities connected by a relation between them (as is one observed in reality).

Here begins the point of the argument – So now, in the light of this, let’s try to excavate the underlying concept beneath the way our English (the way we have it today, in real), is. It’s quite clear that the obvious 2 aspects in our English i.e. common to any English sentence are – 1) what are you talking about? and 2) what are you talking about what you are talking about? (In other words, ‘subject’ and ‘predicate’). Now, doesn’t it seem obvious that these 2 aspects are directly attuned to the phenomenon of communication (the first drawing the listeners attention to what is being talked about and the second to the actual matter) than internal thought? Thinking doesn’t really proceed in such structured (and definitely not always in such a simply-structured, definite & universal) pattern.

A Commonsense Law (Labeling)

Suppose V is the value of a property P, and V is associated with X, then the value of P of X is V. 

*This is a commonsense law, not a logical necessity. 

E.g. a player wearing a jersey (X) with ‘Beckham’ (V) written on it is Beckham (name = P).

A bottle (X) with 250 ml (V) written on it is 250 ml in volume (P).

Not necessary logically, clearly, because just writing 250 ml on a bottle doesnt mean (logically) that the bottle’s volume is 250 ml; or just writing ‘Beckham’ on a shirt doesnt mean the person wearing the shirt is Beckham.

The ‘writing on’ the jersey or the bottle is the ‘association’ (of V with X). 

A final illustrative example – Suppose your phone has it written on it Samsung. Here, V is Samsung, a value of a property (P) ‘company name’. V is associated with the phone (X) (since it is written on the phone). Hence the value  of the company name of the phone is Samsung.

The Definition of Definition

A word is defined in a context in which it is always present. A thief (defined as – one who steals) is defined in the context of the act of stealing, in which it is always present. (Similarly, the stolen thing CAN BE defined in the context of the act of stealing, in which it is always present). A bed cannot be defined in the context of the act of stealing since a bed may not necessarily be present in the act of stealing always. (A bed is defined in the context of sleeping or lying down). 

There are 2 parts to any definition – 

Part 1) What it is – what the thing is literally

Part 2) Context – the context in which it is ALWAYS present.

E.g. – bullet : a small metal object fired from a gun.Here, Part 1 – small metal objectPart 2 – the contexts of gun and firing in which it is always present.

Now, let’s compare Part 1 and Part 2.Consider this – When you think of a thief, the stronger commonsensical link is of robbery/theft/stealing than the fact that it is a person. When you hear/think of a bullet, the stronger link is of gun or firing than the fact that it is a small metal object. Now, actually, a ‘person’ (part 1) is a closer link to a thief than ‘one who steals’ (part 2) and similarly a ‘small metal object’ is to a bullet than ‘firing or gun’, since they are what those things firstly are! And commonsense is the most immediate link from anything. So how come commonsense skips this super-obvious connection and goes to the next obvious one? Somehow, the super-obvious gets skipped compared to the comparatively slightly less obvious. What could be the reason?

– One thing is that ‘part 1’ is not necessarily fixed. A bed may not always be a rectangular wooden structure, a thief may not necessarily be a human and a bullet may not necessarily be a small metallic object – stretching your conventional imagination. But the contexts (Part 2) are more certain associations than these. 

– Another reason could be that we will come across these words mostly, already, in some context. Hence the contextual connections dominate.

– Or is it that the part 1 connection is a part of the very “registry” of the word in the mind, and hence isn’t really a “connection” as such, like part 2 is?

So cognitively speaking, the context is a stronger definer than the ‘what it is’ part. Of course, when you hear an apple, you think of a red “sphere”, but that’s because there isn’t a necessary context in which an apple is always present in.

Commonsense thinking about something seems to rest more on context than on the literal description of that thing.

The Heart of Commonsense NLP – a technique to capture the “more”

What lies at the heart of Commonsense NLP is that the meaning of the sentence contains MORE than what is actually stated in the sentence in terms of words. What is this more? Can we capture it? Here is an idea.

I) Lets look at this ‘MORE’, elementally. Make all the possible pairs of words (since that is the least possibility i.e. 2) occurring together in sentences, attached to each other. Then see what is the MORE in meaning of (AB) as against [meaning of (A) + meaning of (B)]

Consider this example first. It is of verb + noun type.

“cutting vegetables”.
Now, meaning(cutting vegetables) > meaning(cutting) + meaning(vegetables)

You may know what cutting in general is (making parts by using mostly a tool) and what vegetables are. But that is not sufficient to express/understand the pair-phrase “cutting vegetables”. The missing part is ‘how vegetables are cut’ i.e. placing them horizontally and applying repeated vertical strokes from the top. This is the commonsense part. This will never be present in data (unless in the rarest of cases where this is mentioned explicitly, relevant in some context). This is left to human interpretation which a machine would miss, and hence be less equipped to answer questions about the data, involving an understanding of it.

This is true for all ‘verb+ noun’ type pairs. That is, the ‘HOW’ is missing. (e.g. kick ball. No one mentions how the ball is kicked i.e. with the front of the toes of the foot).So we will have to make a database of hand-typed commonsense of the HOWs for the ‘verb+noun’ pairs. 

II) Now wait. First we have to make a list of all the possible pairs from amongst N, Adj, V, Adv.

They are – 
1) Verb + Adverb / Adverb + Verb

e.g. – cut fast 

MORE = what fashion the stroke is in

2) Adj. + Noun

E.g. – fresh vegetables

This capture everything (as far as the COMING TOGETHER of the words is concerned Linguistically) – vegetables which are fresh

Hence nothing more.

3) Noun + Verb (in terms of doer doing an action)

E.g. – John kicked 

MORE = How

4) Verb + Adj.

E.g. – turned blue

Nothing MORE.

5) Noun + Verb (in the sense of an entity being on the receiving end of an action)

E.g. – mouse moved

More = How.

III) Now, all the possible pairs in English language for the above types won’t have to be examined. There is a trick for that. Here it is – 

We need only those pairs which have an implicit additional meaning in them. Not those whose additional meaning will be provided in the specific data in which the pair occurs.E.g. Consider the type ‘Noun + Verb’ (type 3 above) Take these 2 pairs – ‘Man destroyed’ & ‘Pendulum swung’
In the case of the first, how man destroyed (whatever man “destroyed”, in any sense) will be given in the sentence as information, whereas how the pendulum swung won’t be stated explicitly. So we need to work on pairs like the latter only, and skip the former types. How to identify which is which?Do Google Image Search on each. If Google comes up with appropriate images then it means that there is implicit understanding in that pair (that’s why Google could come up with the image of the pair because it didn’t need any more information present in the complete sentence/data). This is true for ‘pendulum swung’. (It gives appropriate images of a swinging pendulum). Whereas, ‘man destroyed’ (which is effectively – man who destroyed) doesn’t give the appropriate images. (It gives images of a man ‘who is destroyed’, rather). 

IV) Finally, an example of such pairs in a sentence – 

The solution immediately turned blue.

PAIRS : solution turned – Noun + Verb (type 5)

turned blue – Verb + Adjective (type 4)

immediately turned – Adverb + Verb (type 1).

Linguistic Commonsense

Let me introduce 2 kinds of verbs – ‘Free’ and ‘Attached’. Attached verbs are those verbs which have a variable in their definition. They are dependent upon an external variable entity for the completion of their Semantics. Free verbs are those which don’t have a variable in their definitions; they are “free” and self-sufficient.

For example, consider ‘preparing’. Preparing =  all actions that go into the creation / making of {something}. Here, the ‘something’ is the variable. So, ‘preparing’ is an ‘attached’ verb.  What is the consequence of this? The occurrence of ‘preparing’ has to be accompanied, more often than not, with a partner – this ‘something’ – somewhere in the data, where ‘preparing’ occurs.
But now consider a verb I define – say, ‘debbing’. ‘Debbing’ means the collective act of walking through the corridor of the house to the hall, then walking to the sofa and finally sitting on the sofa. There is no apparent variable here; hence, ‘debbing’ is a ‘free’ verb. Consequence? A free verb like ‘debbing’ needn’t be accompanied by some partner (filling the slot of any variable in its definition), in the piece of data/text it appears. It is free to be tagged along with other linguistic fragments like – debbing so late in the night, debbing so fast etc. but doesnt have any imperative companion.

This concept has Cognitive bearings. “I am preparing” is more “incomplete” than “I am debbing”. that is, if someone says – I am debbing – it seems fairly stable and doesnt lead to further imperative questions. But if someone just says – I am preparing – it immediately sparks a query in the mind like – preparing what? Hence this “Linguistic-Cognitive-inspiration” is present in attached verbs. 

Now, this slot-filling of variables will lead to commonsense-connections to the original word, and they come from the definitions of these words. Hence, this is what I call ‘Linguistic Commonsense’.

One application : 
Creating a mass of commonsense reasoning over a text – 

Extending this to words in general – There will be some ‘free’ words like say ‘calculator’ wherein there isn’t any appreciable/noticeable variable, and there will be some ‘attached’ words like ‘preparing’ where there is clearly a variable. The latter is what we have to exploit for mining out commonsense reasoning links and commonsense activity in general over any given text!

You can derive a lot of commonsense using this so called Linguistic-Cognitive-inspiration inherent in ‘attached’ words. The variable part in the definition of some word is the commonsense attached with the occurrence of that word in any data. So, for example, ‘dancing’ has the definition – moving body and body parts to some sound. Here the variable is ‘some’ (sound). So the commonsense attached with dancing is that – there should be some sound accompanying dancing, if and when there is dancing going on. Or, ‘preparing something‘ (omelette, breakfast, a trap etc.) is the commonsense attached with the word ‘preparing’ in any data. 

(Note :  We are here only talking about Linguistic-Commonsensically inspired questions and not general conventional commonsense. In the latter sense, there are other questions accompanying ‘dancing’ like dancing on what? dancing where? dancing with whom (if anyone)? etc.)

So, given a text, take each word and its definition. If there is a variable in there, question for the entity present in that text, filling that slot. That will lead the machine to think (question) commonsensically over that text, in cases where there isn’t an answer to the question present in that text!

Flipping concepts in Language like terms in equations

I am introducing a concept in Linguistics, akin to flipping terms in mathematical equations. Consider this equation : P (in terms of T) = nrT/V; whereas now T in terms of P would be T=PV/nR

Or, given P=a^(½),

a, in terms of P would be : a= P^2

So, given ‘John is in his room’, the reverse would be – 

John’s room is housing him / John is housed by his room. 

Lets elaborate the concept with an example –  

John is climbing a tree.

The reverse of this would be – A tree is supporting the climb of John.

Now, this looks similar to the ‘Active’ and ‘Passive’ voices in Language. But it is not. The conventional reverse (passive) voice would be – A tree is being climbed upon by John.

In most sentences there is something “fixed” and there is something which comes into the scene, later, as variable and mobile. (This is mostly the actor – the doer). There is a pre-existing fixed thing / phenomenon and something else – variable and mobile – is coming later into the scene. (Note : This coming later into the scene has nothing to do with information unraveling as the sentence progresses. What it means is : When you say ‘John is in the room’, the room is a fixed pre-existing thing and then comes John “in the scene” as an active mobile agent, fitting into the room. Here, you are describing John in terms of the room (like P in terms of T above). When you say ‘The room is housing John’ John is the fixed pre-existing thing and the room comes in as an active player, surrounding John. Here you are describing the room in terms of John (like later T in terms of P, above).

In this example, the tree is the mobile actor which is doing something; which is playing. John’s climbing is a pre-existing “fixed” thing already there. The tree is being described with regard to John. In the original sentence, John is being described with regard to the tree / in terms of the tree.

Note : This is not even the same as making some other word as the subject. The sentence with mere subject alteration i.e. making the tree as the subject would be – The tree is being climbed upon by John (which is the conventional passive voice). In our case, the voice remains the same, and some other word (the fixed passive pre-existing “agent”) becomes the thing in terms of which / with regard to which the earlier active agent is being described. 

In other representational terms, this equation-flipping is – 

(John) = (climbing tree) 


(Tree) = (supporting John’s climbing)

Adding the word ‘supporting’ is the equivalent of the necessary mathematical operation in making a certain term in the equation, the subject of the equation. (like say squaring or multiplying and dividing etc.)

This applies even in cases where the passive voice is difficult – 

The keyboard is a part of the computer. Here the passive voice is difficult.

The computer is a fixed entity here and the keyboard “comes into the scene”, as one of its parts. Keyboard is described in terms of a computer. So, the reverse of this is – ‘The computer has a keyboard as one of its parts’ / ‘A computer’s part is a keyboard’, wherein a computer is described “in terms of” / with regard to a keyboard.

Why just Naive “Physics”?

Consider 2 blocks kept near each other on a table. Apply force on one, the other will move too. How does a child understand this, which it experiences? 

Consider this – If you show a blue bag to a child and suppose it goes near it and explores it, and finds chocolates inside. It sees an identical blue bag later; it will think there are chocolates inside it too. Why? SAME FEATURE => SAME PROPERTY. Same colour and design bag, same contents!

In case of the blocks, when the child pushes one, the first one touches the second. Now touching is a sort of a loose conceptual analogy for “sameness” (oneness due to contact). So since the second block is now “same” as/with the first block, in some respect, and the first block moves (which it understands as due to direct application of force on it), the second block should also move. This is exactly like the bag and chocolates scenario. SAME => SAME. 

So, is it so that the underlying concepts are the same whereas the actual form of reality in question might be different – say physical (as in the case above of blocks), abstract (colour and contents, as in the case above), numerical, geometrical, linguistic (words and sentences) etc.? Why not thus unify it all into naive sense (commonsense) rather than specialise things into cases like naive PHYSICS? 

First commonsensical comments

What is being referred to here is a casual mode in everyday life, of observing new things. Say you visit your friend’s locality and house and come across various things. What will come to your mind commonsensically, first, upon seeing each of those things? No computer can come up with such things (comments). 

PRINCIPLE : The fact that something exists, brings to mind commonsensically,

a) an implication relating to what that thing is meant for IF that (what it is meant for) is of uni-possibility, or b) some implication relating to a uni-possibility path of the existence of that thing, if there is such for the same.

(Theoretically speaking, anything connected to that thing can come to mind.)

Note :

–          When uni-possibilities are being spoken about here, it means that the fringe possibilities are ignored. An example of commonsensical uni-possibility – A moving car seen from the front implies there is fuel in it and not that someone or some machine is pushing it forward from behind. After all, a commonsense certainty is never 100%.

Examples of Part (a) of the Principle – 

  1. Book – Suppose you see a book lying on the bed in his room. Relevant implication statements would be – who’s reading this? / Oh, you into reading? / etc.

 Lets see this in the light of the principle. Firstly, what exists is a book. (Note – you just see a book, and not identify it). There is a uni-possibility about what a book is meant for – it is reading (apart from fringe possibilities like being used as a mouse-pad). So there is an implication relating to that, that comes to mind – they are the relevant implication statements like – who’s reading it? OR Oh, you into reading and all? Theoretically, anything connected to a book, or that book can come to mind, which would be irrelevant in the human real-world context, like say – when did you buy this book? What is the cost of this book? Imagine saying these as the first things to your friend upon seeing a book lying on the bed in his room while you are visiting his house!

2.                  Fridge – Here, forget the ‘visiting the friend’s house’-context. In general contexts, mostly when you will see a fridge it will come to your mind that there is some cold stuff inside. Be it if you are thirsty at home or at a party. Or even while opening a fridge, that will be the first thing you will become aware of. Here, the thing that exists is a fridge. There is a uni-possibility about what a fridge is meant for – cooling things. So that is what comes to mind. Again, theoretically, anything connected to a fridge can come to mind.

3.                  Prayer temple – Move back to the context of visiting the friend’s house. You see a praying temple in a room. One of the relevant implication statements would be – Oh, so you guys are all theists? OR so, who’s the theist in here? etc. Here, some implication relating to the uni-possibility of what the thing (praying temple) is meant for (worshipping God), is spoken about. 

Examples of Part (b) of the Principle – 

  1. Laptop – You see an expensive high-end laptop. Here the thing that exists is an expensive laptop. Now, there isn’t a uni-possibility about what a laptop is meant for – it is used for various things like documents, movies, surfing the internet, chatting etc. So there is nothing on that front. However, there can be a comment like – this guy’s rich! Now see carefully. This implication pertains to the existence/creation of an expensive laptop, and there is a uni-possibility path of the same because there is only one way the laptop can exist – buying it, (other than the fringe possibilities of borrowing, stealing etc.) So buying the expensive laptop is the uni-possibility path of the existence of the laptop. And an implication comes to mind relating to the aspect of buying it. 
  1. Tree – You enter his locality and say see lots of trees. One of the relevant implication statements could be – so you have planted a lot in here! Here the statement is an implication related to planting. Now planting a tree is a uni-possibility path of a tree’s existence since it bears a bijective one-to-one relation with the existence of a tree. So there is an implication statement related to that.

Zeroth law of NLP

The default “direction” of flow of data / knowledge in all written and spoken material is, mostly, FORWARD. Things are moving ahead. They are obviously going from something temporally, before, to something temporally, later. We read ahead in time. First comes something and THEN comes something else and more. We increase data that is coming at us, and not the other way round. Not that we have 1000 words to begin with, and then we remove 1 word and thus have 999 and some meaning unravels, then remove 2 words and thus have 998 and some more meaning unravels, and so on. We have 1, then we add one, and thus have 2 and some sense is made, and then we add 1 more and have 3 and some additional sense is made, and so on.  
One consequence of this – Some words have, what can be called as, “forward” and “backward” aspects to their meaning. Owing to this forward inertia of data-flow, we tend to take the forward aspect of the meaning of these words (as with all the words). Suppose someone says – let me resume work. The conventional forward meaning tells you that now there is going to be work being done. But the very semantics of ‘resume’ tells you that work was being done before saying that sentence, too. This implication striking the mind is rarer than the other one (forward) doing so, because in this case you are going against the flow – the default direction of flow of data, which is FORWARD. 

An Algorithm : Gelling the Semantics for emergence of Commonsense Reality

Consider this sentence – The army attacked the enemy. 

Now, it is only common sense that can tell that the enemy is mostly another (country’s) army and not just say a person who is an enemy (which is a theoretical possibility – uncommonsensical). So, a sentence, when applied commonsense to, conjures up a commonsensical picture of likely reality. 

So it is the semantics of the words which somehow gells to create the commonsensical picture.

Here is a algorithmic way to arrive at that commonsensical reality – 

1) Take individual meanings of the words.

army – ‘a group of army people / a regiment’ is what comes in front of your eyes. Call this meaning as A.

attack – ‘the act of forcibly hitting/beating/acting upon….etc.’ is what you imagine. Call this meaning as B.

enemy – ‘someone who you have to be wary of, protect yourself from, fight, who is harmful for you’ is what comes to mind. Call this meaning as C.

2) Now take all possible combinations of words.

i) army – attack

ii) attack – enemy

iii) army – enemy 

3) Simplistically fuse the meanings of the individual words in the pair.

i) army – attack -> A + B -> ‘a group of army people forcibly hitting/beating/acting upon…..etc’.

Note here that the fragment ‘army attacked’ (/ ‘army attack’) makes Linguistic sense. That is the basis of the fusion of the words. Let this fusion be called X. 

ii) attack – enemy -> B + C -> ‘the act of forcibly hitting/beating/acting upon someone who is harmful to you, who you have to be wary of, protect yourself from, fight’

Note here that the fragment ‘attack enemy’ makes Linguistic sense. That is the basis of the fusion of the words. Let this fusion be called Y.

iii) army – enemy -> A + C -> ?Now the fragment ‘army enemy’ doesnt make Linguistic sense on its own. It could be ‘army which is enemy’ or ‘army’s enemy’ or something else. Draw forth the right sense from the sentence. The army attacked enemy implies army attacked IT’s enemy implies it is the ARMY’s enemy.

So, A + C -> here when you fuse, you will imagine the army’s enemy as ANOTHER (COUNTRY’S) ARMY WHICH IS THE ENEMY; thus the fusion is –  ‘a group of army people / a regiment’s enemy which is another (country’s) army’. Let this fusion be called Z.

4) So now we have 3 fusions – X, Y and Z as described above.

Now, reunite them. (See the note in red below, later). 

How to reunite? This will be a cyclic chain. 

X (army attacked) and Y (attacked enemy) combine to give ‘army attacked enemy’ which in the form of the fusions is X + Y which is ‘a group of army people forcibly hitting/beating/acting upon…etc. upon someone who is harmful to you, who you have to be wary of, protect yourself from, fight’. 
Note – Here, X + Y = A + B + B + C. Here B repeats. Take the latter of the 2 fragments, as a matter of convention.

Y + Z -> Y is ‘attack enemy’ and Z is ‘army’s enemy’. They combine as ‘attack army’s enemy’ which is equivalent to – ‘a group of army people / a regiment engaged in an act of forcibly hitting/beating/acting upon…etc. someone  which is another (country’s) army’. (Taking the repeated fragment from the latter of the 2 i.e. from Z)

X + Z -> X is ‘army attacked’ and Z is ‘army’s enemy’. They combine as ‘army attacked army’s enemy’. This becomes – ‘a group of army people / a regiment forcibly hit/beat/acted upon….etc. its enemy which is another (country’s) army’.   

(NOTE : Mathematically, this might look like just going in circles – doing and undoing, which it is not. Note the key step (3-iii) in bold above. That qualitatively includes the way a certain pair is combined, and in a certain particular right sense, and factoring in commonsense, to give a certain critical fusion, which THEN GELS INTO THE OTHER FUSIONS in the last round (step 4)).

The above 3 sentences in bold (in black) are the reality-pictures corresponding to the original sentence! 2 of them contain the aspect talked about at the very beginning.

This can be scaled up for higher number of words in the sentence.