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Re: [xmca] Re: Using the term institution in a very broad sense

thanks, Martin

This quotation also concerns what I see as a difference between matters semiological (in this case, grammar) and psychological.

I think there's a slight overstatement, though, in saying that ""grammars and psychological processes have no more than the loose relationships they appear, in fact, to have."

While linguists might be able to construct artificial grammars that could structure linguistic communication in a non-human population whose psychological processing is different from our own, only a grammar that can be processed by our human psychological apparatus could function as a real grammar in a real human language.

The obverse is that a psychological apparatus must be capable of processing some semiosically adequate grammar if it is to function as the psychological apparatus for members of a language-using species.

Language and other institutions may be said to "define and evaluate" (not cause) the behavior and action of individuals, but only if "define" is understood to include things like "afford and constrain."

On Sun, 19 Jun 2011, Martin Packer wrote:


The quotation from David McNeil at the start of Sinha's chapter expresses perfectly what I was struggling to articulate:

"Grammars ... refer to real structures, though not to psychologically real structures in the processing sense ... a grammar is a description of our knowledge of a social institution?the language?and because of this basis in social or institutional reality, rather than in cognitive functioning, grammars and psychological processes have no more than the loose relationships they appear, in fact, to have. The role of grammar during speech programming is analogous to the role of other social institutions during individual behaviour. This role is to define and evaluate the behaviour of individuals. It is not to cause the behaviour" (McNeill 1979: 293).

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