type

The unique form of the tokens (words) in a corpus. Often accompanied by frequency data.

Meaning is treated as secondary. Corpus linguistic analysis does not directly reveal the various meanings of a word. This must be inferred from its usage. In corpus linguistics this usually done by concordancing, collocations, clusters, etc.

token

The individual forms (words) of a corpus. The sum of the tokens is the size of the corpus. The term contrasts with type in order to distinguish how we are observing the form, whether as one instance in the corpus (token), or as combined instances relating to its frequency within a corpus (type).

How to listen without ears

Once in a while piece of new research will remind you that some things that seem a given are just not. Take for example this paper on a species of earless frogs listen with their mouths. As incredible as that may sound these frogs do indeed react to mating calls. In other words you don’t need ears to be able to take advantage of physical properties of sound.

We all know bats use sonar to hunt for prey in the dark and that dogs can hear high pitch sounds we can’t (think dog whistle). Even children can hear sounds that adults no longer can. As a parent I sat through a science show for kids once where they played sounds which my kids nonchalantly reacted to but I couldn’t hear at all. I literally heard nothing. It just goes to show much we rely on the “equipment” for the interpretation of the world around us.

The top award though must go to the mantis shrimp though. This animal can see 100,000 shades of colour, ten times more than humans. There obviously must be a need for it to be able to do so otherwise it would have become redundant and have been whittled out of the species through natural selection.

But opposite must be true too of the limited range of human-made sounds. A while back I wrote about the Japanese’s inability to distinguish between the ‘l’ and ‘r’ sound. In Japanese this distinction doesn’t exist. It isn’t necessary for their language and communication so they therefore need not either to bother hearing it or producing it. The moral of the story is the sounds within Japanese language more than adequately suffice for their need to communicate what they want to say.

There are two lessons here: one is that what counts as sensory perception and faculty is not so clearcut. And second, you don’t necessarily need to hear everthing, that is, our minds filters out things, to separate “the noise from the music” so to speak. And this has consequences for the development and acquisition of language which essentially is a manipulated layer over sound and sight.

metamorphosisyphus thesis

push along push up

boulders ever bolder 

no end in sight

a page at a time 

every single word 

is laborious 

as long as i am 

not rejected 

i will continue

incorrect syntax

the grammar police are here
and now i must ask for forgiveness
for my syns.
that i have to pay for in
syn-tax.