Natural Language and the Computer

By Paul L. Garvin | Go to book overview

THOMAS A. SEBEOK


The informational model of language: analog and digital coding in animal and human communication

Speech communication maybe studied as an information system and natural language as the code used in the system.1 From this point of view it seems useful, on the one hand, to investigate the analog and digital characteristics of human communication and animal communication systems as to the manner in which they code information.

Communication engineers often distinguish between two kinds of control machines: those for counting and those for measuring. The former, which are "all-or-none" devices, are sometimes called digital; they are of a "yes/no" type. The latter, which operate on the basis of connections between measured quantities and the quantities they represent, are, by contrast, known as analog; they are of a "more-or-less" type. The prototype of a digital system is the abacus, that of the analog, the slide rule. The chief limitation of analog systems relates to their accuracy; those physical systems, on the other hand, which are able to make yes/no decisions can achieve any desired precision, given sufficient capacity and time.

A further observation--developed by N. Wiener, among others--is that the functioning of the nervous system is prima facie digital:2 If a combination of incoming messages will not cause an outgoing fiber to fire, it is said to be below threshold; otherwise, it is said to be above threshold. Nervous pulses can thus be viewed as two-valued markers: the presence of a pulse (release of acetylcholine?) above threshold represents one value, say, the binary digit 1, and the absence of a pulse (release of cholinest

____________________
1
See C. F. von Weizsäcker, "Sprache als Information," Sprache, Darmstadt, 1959, pp. 33-53; and R. Jakobson, "Linguistics and Communications Theory," Proceedings of Symposia in Applied Mathematics, vol. 12, pp. 245-252, 1961. See also the section on information-theoretic models in W. Plath survey of "Mathematical Linguistics," in C. Mohrmann, A. Sommerfelt, and J. Whatmough (eds.), Trends in European and American Linguistics, 1930-1960, Utrecht, Antwerp, 1961, pp. 21-57.
2
N. Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings, Boston, 1950, p. 74.

-47-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Natural Language and the Computer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 402

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.