[F] f [F] → (nature, language, design)

Design,Linguistics -- 15 / February / 2019

According to Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (putting briefly), the [F]orm of any species (‘variation’) f-ollows the [F]unction associated with use (‘selection’). Darwin empirically based this notion on ‘gradualism’ (slow, uniform, gradual), or nature doesn’t jump (‘saltationism’).

– Linguistics is the study of language (trough grammar).
– Design is the specification and/or creation of forms.

> What linguistics has to do with design?

– ‘Form ever follows function‘ (Louis Sullivan)

> What grammar has to do with modern design?

– ‘Weniger aber besser‘ (Dieter Rams)

PSa: the form of a language (based on Historical Linguistics) never jumps; it’s slow, uniform and gradual according to its function.

PSb: I am a linguist that loves design and is fascinated by the Darwin’s theory of evolution. And this is only some new ideas I am working now as concepts. I dare to say that somehow as Pāṇini (V BC) also thought (based on his grammar: 1.1.68).

Do you get this? / This is a note jumped out of my mind /

Uma resposta

A summary (Ph.D. thesis).

Linguistics,Notices -- 11 / December / 2016

Now I entered at the last formal year of PhD. Here is an explicative Summary for my thesis. It can have little changes, but the subjects and relations are exactly what I am working on my research.

I already started to write it.

*** *** ***




Pāṇini beyond Chomsky.

Pāṇini’s grammar is not a Chomsky’s generative grammar.

Aṣṭādhyāyi and formal grammars.


Chapter 1

What kind of formal grammar is Aṣṭādhyāyi?

Pāṇini’s technique of grammar.

Sūtra as a way of formalization.

Translation and commentary of some sūtra(s) [examples].


Chapter 2

Indo-European Linguistics and Aṣṭādhyāyi framework.

Indo-European Laws and Aṣṭādhyāyi.

Aṣṭādhyāyi as a model of grammar for Indo-European languages.

Translation and commentary of some sūtra(s) [examples].


Chapter 3

Aṣṭādhyāyi as a specific Dependency Grammar.

Could Aṣṭādhyāyi work as a Universal Dependency framework?

Pāṇini’s technique of grammar and the Model-Theoretic approach.

Translation and commentary of some sūtra(s) [example].


Chapter 4

Pratyāhāra sūtra and speech analytics: an algorithm.

Pratyāhāra sūtra as a model for International Phonetic Alphabet.

Pratyāhāra technique to other languages.

Translation and commentary of some sūtra(s) [example].


Chapter 5

Aṣṭādhyāyi’s metalanguage as a system of notation (code).

Phonetics in Aṣṭādhyāyi, an analysis.

Morphology in Aṣṭādhyāyi, an analysis.

Syntax in Aṣṭādhyāyi, an analysis.

Morphosyntax in Aṣṭādhyāyi, an analysis.

Translation and commentary of some sūtra(s) [example].


Appendix 1

Toward a new theory of grammar based on Pāṇini’s grammar.


Appendix 2

Aṣṭādhyāyi and a new approach to machine translation.


Appendix 3

Taking Universal Grammar seriously.




PS: Here you can see it in pdf: summary-thesis




Nenhuma resposta

New approach to formal grammars. (Doktorandem výzkum)

Linguistics,Philosophy,Science -- 25 / October / 2015

This is the Introduction of my Ph.D. research project. Soon I’ll post the whole project in pdf.


New approach to formal grammars: Pāṇini’s grammar as an answer.


The form is the possibility of the structure.

L.Wittgenstein (T.L.Ph., 2.033)





Since Noam Chomsky said the Pāṇini’s grammar (PG) is a “generative grammar, in essentially the contemporary sense of this term” (1965: v), a new perspective in the studies of Aṣṭādhyāyī has appeared. Some linguists trained in PG have been asserting  the link between PG and generative grammar at least since 1965, even assuming that PG is within a specific hierarchy of the Chomsky Hierarchy[1]. But none of them ever questioned the Chomsky’s theory, on the contrary, just accepted it and have applied it to PG its whole framework, however, “the generative perspective has misled linguists concerning the properties of natural language” (Pullum: 2003).

The formalization of grammars has been very restricted to what we call generative frameworks, and these frameworks have been considered theoretically important for any description of natural language without proving empirically its efficacy. It is like saying that for the formal grammar have its potential proved, it has to pass through an analysis of a generative framework, known as mathematical foundations. PG has been a victim of Chomsky’s theory since his declaration. When some linguists trying to apply these new models of framework to PG to prove that PG can be one kind of generative grammar, we see two mistakes: first, to turn PG’s framework to generative framework (something that contributes to PG to lose its linguistic potential); second, to lose the oportunity to challenge Chomsky’s theory with a grammar that describes a language (Sanskrit, in this case) with total efficacy, and empirically.

My research goes in this new perspective, not trying to demonstrate that PG is one kind of generative grammar, but to prove that PG’s method is efficient for describing any natural language. PG will be proved as a model grammar, meaning that it can be applied at least to every natural language in the Indo-european family. This approuch implies two important points: outdo the Chomsky’s theory of grammar (note that I am discussing grammars, not languages); provide a framework completely linguistic for description of languages (avoiding mathematical foundations). With the second point is possible to affirm that PG can even be a model of grammar for Natural Language Processing (NLP).

If a generative grammar is a “system of rules that in some explicit and well-defined way assigns structural descriptions to sentences” (Chomsky, 1965: 8), the grammar of Pāṇini could be considered a generative grammar, but the main problem to consider it as this kind of grammar is that for Pāṇini the objects that linguists investigate (words, phrases, clauses, sentences, lexemes, syllables) are real and have a real structure, than “merely structures imposed on them or posited for them by linguists” (Pullum:2007). The PG is known as saṃjñaka vyākaraṇa, a grammar of categories of technical terms (Kapoor, 2005:70). For Pāṇini, to generate a language (Sanskrit), one grammar firstly must describe it, and if its description is not real, the generation is not effectual. In the end, PG exposes the mistakes that have been investigated by generative linguists.[2]

[1] See J.F.Staal, “Context-Sensitive Rules in Pāṇini” (1965); and M.D.Hyman “From Pāṇinian sandhi to finite state calculus” (2007).
[2] My research has the support of all the examination made by Geoffrey K. Pullum and András Kornai regarding the mistakes of generative grammars and Chomsky’s theory, as well as parts of the Cognitive Linguistics, Geoffrey Sampson for example.

Nenhuma resposta

Bi-cycle (a poem).

Literature -- 12 / May / 2015


photoDedicated to Jakub Štěch and Ondra Loup.


I broke my head

just after my birthday,

April’s spring, new year,

my eyes soon opened.


An accident got

my blue sky bicycle,

I lost the control,

crashed into a light pole;

hospital, exams,

doctors and surgery.

All them to keep my soul

in life’s mystery.


The brain wasn’t touched,

the mind got its healing,

intellect expanded,

heart almost willing.


Prague blossoms again,

flowers everywhere,

the crows shout their screams,

but swans fly with no pain.


Now I realized:

the body is fragile,

intelligence is all,

then ride forward

without afraid to fall.



PS: Today complete one month after the bike accident I had in Prague, I was born again;

and this poem was the way I put my pain out.

19 respostas

An anecdote on Chomsky’s linguistic theory.

Linguistics -- 19 / March / 2015

Sometimes you can find some “gaps” in the theories or even in the progress of these theories involved in your research. They become an anecdote about that theory. I’ve found an anecdote about the development of Chomsky’s theory, Generative Grammar, linked with my research. Perhaps the scholars know it – I am not sure.


There is one famous linguistic classification in Chomsky’s theory, “deep structure and surface structure”, which fell down in the last development of the theory known as Minimalist Program, that could be adjusted years before and have put the theory in advance in a way that is dealt today. In 1965, Noam Chomsky wrote in the preface of his book Aspects of the Theory of Syntax that Pāṇini’s grammar (Aṣṭādhyāyī) is a “generative grammar, in essentially the contemporary sense of this term”. If someone developing a new theory bumps into a work that delineates the same theory, he should study carefully this work before giving a next step. It seems that Chomsky never did it in respect of Pāṇini’s grammar, which made him to lose time in the discovery of some details of the new concept of his theory.


Concerning deep and surface structures, or syntactic-semantic relations, in 1969, Paul Kiparsky and J.F. Staal wrote the paper Syntactic and Semantic Relations in Pāṇini, where they compare the kāraka’s system with those deep and surface structures, their conclusion is:


“It seems that the general form of Pāṇini’s syntatic rules and levels is in fact rather difference from those of a generative grammar. In the theory of Chomsky, deep structures and surface structures have the same formal properties. Both are represented by trees with labeled nodes and ordered branches. The set of deep structure categories (Sentence, Noun Phrase, Verb, Phrase, etc.) is a subset (perhaps a proper subset) of the set of surface structure categories. For Pāṇini, on the other hand, each category belongs to one and only one level.”


And before they noted:


“For Pāṇini […] the constituents of a sentence are all on a par, with no further hierarchical structure.”


It was only in 1995 that Noam Chomsky’s paper Bare Phrase Structure brought in the same conclusions seen in Pāṇini and noticed by Kiparsky and Staal in 1969, so twenty six years later. In the paper is noted:


“A linguistic expression of L is at least a pair (π, λ) of this sort and under minimalist assumpions, at most such a pair, meaning that there are no ‘levels of linguistics structure’ apart from the two interface levels PF and LF; specifically, no levels of D-structure or S-structure.”


OBS: the terms D-structure and S-structure are respectively deep and surface structures, the terms PF and LF are phonetic form and logical form.


All the changings of the last part of the theory MP were conceived in respect of the goal “to explain how it arises in the mind of the speaker the problems of descriptive and explanatory adequacy” (1995); but as regards the changings, MP also brought in a new ‘computational system’, in which all the phrase structure rules and X-bar theory was criticized and ‘rewritten’, what was responsible for some changings in the theory of context-free languages and grammars, part of the area of NLP.


For Pāṇini, a structure could never be seen as deep and surface, but on pairs in one unique level. What makes the structure (syntax) much more “computable”. Twenty six years of delay, therefore, could be very useful for the development of Chomsky’s theory, in the end all area of natural language processing could be affected.




But more than this, in the paper (1995), Chomsky ensures:


“The basic assumption of the P&P model [Principles and Parameters] is that languages have no rules at all in anything like the traditional sense [of his theory] and no grammatical constructions except as taxonomic artifacts”


However, Kiparsky and Staal (1969) noted:


“It has been said that Pāṇini’s method was taxonomic […], the kāraka theory suggests not only that such statements are untrue, but also that Pāṇini’s treatment of syntax and semantics presents analogies to various aspects of several modern linguistic theories, whithout being directly identifable with any of them”.


What Chomsky calls Principles and Parameters model is exactly what Pāṇini calls Sāmānya (general) and Viśeṣa (particular) and all his grammar is delineated with them. If Chomsky had studied the Aṣṭādhyāyī in 1965, maybe he could advance his theory and avoid some mistakes the theory has.


PS: If you want to read a very good critical paper about Chomsky’s Minimalist Program, read The Structure of Unscientific Revolutions, Shalom Lappin, Robert D. Levine and David E. Johnson, 2000 (on web). The papers I quoted here can be found on web.

Uma resposta

Google Translate needs a grammar device.

Linguistics,Science -- 12 / February / 2015

I think it was Steve Jobs who said for connecting the dots we should look backwards, and not forward. Regarding machine translation I think Google would improve much more its translator if it looked backwards. Last month Google launched their update for Google Translate, it is amazing technology resulting from machine learning area. I tested almost all the languages thinking that the translations would get better, but they didn’t. This is why Google cannot say it has now a “more powerful translation tool”. A powerful translation tool must translate better than Google Translate (GT).


The new update is based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. The system is still based on linguistic corpus and statistics. Google feeds the system with words from all languages the translator works with (the number now is more or less 200 billions) and applies the statistics; from high statistical matches among the languages come the translations we are used to see on Google Translate. The system does not translate, but learns from existing human translations, Google use a lot of UN Documents for it.


Now, according with Jeff Dean (the Google legend behind Google Brain), Google is searching “a better form of real-time translation” with deep learning and AI, this new model would use “only neural-nets to do end-to-end languages translation”.


Would a model like that build a better machine translation? I think no.


Let me explain like this:



A machine translation cannot be good enough without using a grammar.



Assuming that:

(a) a translation is a technique

(b) the syntactic-semantic relation is the core of any translation


We have:


Hypothesis 1.

The translator (human or machine) operates two processes:

(a) describes a source language (input L)

(b) generates a target language (output L) [no native speaker also describes output L]


Hypothesis 2.

The translator must generate output L with grammaticality.

[Grammaticality = understandable by native speaker]


Combining (a) and (b) to H1 and H2 is possible to see that a translator (machine or human) needs a grammar as a device for its/his technique.


Let us give one step forward.


In the GT video says by statistics the machine discovers grammar by itself from every text in every language analyzed. But this “grammar” is based on match, and therefore, it is very weak to describe or to generate languages.



Linguistic corpus is fundamental to any translation process (human or machine).


Accepting that every machine translation is a written machine translation, even using “speech to speech”, we have:



A machine can make a standard translation if and only if it has the assistance of a grammar device working like a filter.



Consider two languages, English E and Czech C, for translating one simple sentence S (“you are beautiful”), from E to C, testing in the Google Translate app:

You are beautiful < E (automatically gives) C > Jste krásná

But the translation S=E>C can be also:

C > Jste krásný / Jsi krásná – Jsi krásný) / Jsou krásné

For C > we have Second person plural feminine, masculine (formal); Second person singular feminine, masculine (informal); Third person plural feminine/masculine. In Google’s term “pattern” we have: one pattern E to six patterns C (with E using three elements and C using two). We have a gradation in the adjective ‘beautiful’, at E>C, and it can be translated for “nádhera” and “krásná”. The S in E does not have gender, whereas in C we can have two (f, m). With the S in E suppose the personal pronoun has a mark of emphasis, then the S in C will have more five possible “patterns” (ty, vy, oni/ony/ona). This if we accept the S without context, once in context the analysis would be even more complex for a machine. To describe or to generate this S we can see: machine translations need a grammar device working as a filter – something that a human native speaker has naturally. And if we accept the thesis that native speakers cannot “classify [naturally] any sentence over the vocabulary of their language consistently as either grammatical or ungrammatical” (R.J. Matthews, Are the grammatical sentences of a language a recursive set?, 1979, p. 211), Google Translate will need even more a grammar device working like a filter.


From now on my main subject is this grammar device. How should it be?


PS: Then, I finally re-start to write here after one year.

3 respostas

Beyond cultural layer. (in Proti šedi)

Culture,Philosophy -- 11 / February / 2014

This is the article that I wrote to Czech web cultural magazine Proti šedi (there in Czech).


Let’s think about ourselves like humans made by layers. It is the way the Yoga or the Vedānta knowledge traditions analyze we human beings, for example. It seems to me that such analysis is a good way to understand even other kinds of layers we have, like superficial ones. A cultural layer, in this case. How much we are influenced by all the cultural stuffs that we are exposed to? And how much of them are really valuable? To be a foreigner can give us good answers to these questions, because when we are a little bit out from our zone we can see what is genuine and what is not. Not about the others but about ourselves. This “way to see” can be learned.


To be a foreigner in this case is only a way to call someone who can observe what is the reality, which is not so easy. Of course our cultural layer is part of our reality, but it is also possible to say that this is the last layer we have. It means that many times we label ourselves by this cultural layer. But who are we indeed? Can we say we are some behaviors and habits coming from this layer? It is just we move from a place we are used to living and dealing with some behaviors and habits, which we realize an amazing difference between who we really are and all these behaviors and habits. One habit or one way we behave can be changed according to the culture we adopt, even if we never leave the place of our original culture. But not everything can be changed.


When we are in this position to see what can change and what cannot, when we are in front of something greater than us and our conscience begs us for choosing do not get rid of the responsibility we have in knowing what is right and what is not, it is exactly the moment when we realize what really matters; or in one different explanation: what is accidental and what is essential. Every cultural influence we have are accidental, it means we can change them according to our choice or the place or time we are, and if it is so, the cultural layer is not enough to say who we are. On the other hand, there is the character, which is individual and do not depend completely on culture, we can be in a specific culture, with specifics habits and behaviors, but even then to have a kind of character that has nothing to do with the culture we are, it seems, then, we can say that the character is more essential, because it depends on learning to be excellent. It is the character, determined by reason, which many times will choose the kind of culture (habits and behaviors) we want for our life or want to live in. Then, while we are introducing to each other putting many cultural labels on us to show who we are, it is exactly the character, which cannot be seen so easy in the first moment, that will show who we really are. In the end, it is not the fact to be a Brazilian or a Czech, a punk, a rock’n roll guy or a classic one, or to have that taste or this, travel to many places or to live in one or other way that determines who we are, it is more about what stays, the character. It is like an axle that is fixed (character, essential) for the wheel turns without stopping (cultural influences, accidental). And a wheel with an unfixed axle doesn’t turn well. Each day more it seems to me that the character has nothing to do with the place we came, how we were born, the cultures we adopt, a social or physical environments, heredity or anything else, but with our responsibility to become a better person, it is about the way to become excellent.


Post Script:


It is from the character that we start to do one of the important practices in the Yoga tradition, called svādhyāya, a self-meditation (self-study) about who we really are.

Nenhuma resposta

Sanskrit Phonetics and Devanāgarī literacy (a course).

Linguistics,Sanskrit -- 23 / September / 2013


I would like to invite you to the course on Sanskrit I will teach in this school year at Charles University, Prague. The course is an opportunity for everyone who wants to learn this language. The examples will come mostly from Yoga ancient texts and the course is very useful for those who practice Yoga or have any interest in the Sanskrit culture. It is also an opportunity to see and deal with a very scientific alphabet, in the same way which all the ancient grammars and scholars have been teaching it since thousand years. The course will be taught in English.


The course will start at October 3rd. Every Thursday at 9:10 am, in the room 102.

The address:

Charles University, Institute of Comparative Linguistics

Celetná 20

116 42 Prague 1


Here is the course description:


The aim of this course is to learn the Sanskrit phonetics in its two modalities, Vedic and Classic, by three traditional works: Taittirīya-prātiśākhya (Vedic), Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini (V B.C., Classic) and Harinamāmṛta Vyākaraṇa of Jīva Gosvāmi (XIV A.C., Classic). The course will make you learn the traditional alphabet as well. By the end of the course you will be able to recognize all the phonemes, write and pronounce exactly the Sanskrit words in the devanāgarī script.


Course plan:

1)    Sounds of Vedic Sanskrit and differences between Vedic and Classic.

2)    The characteristics and differences among the three works.

3)    Simple vowels, in its script (devanāgarī).

4)    Diphthongs.

5)    Consonants, first group.

6)    Consonants, second group.

7)    Consonants, third group.

8)    Consonants, fourth group.

9)    Consonants, fifth group.

10) The Pāṇini’s alphabet.

11)  Peculiarities of the Sanskrit sounds (Phonology and Indo-European studies).

12)  Some euphonic combinations (sandhi technician).



Written activities with one written test at the end.



MACDONELL, A.A. A Vedic Grammar for Students. Delhi, D.K.Printworld’s, 2005 (1916).

DAHIYA, Yajanveer. Panini as a Linguist: ideas and patterns. Delhi, Eastern Book, 1995.

WHITNEY, W.D. The Taittiriya Pratisakhya. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1973 (1871).

VASU, S.Ch. The Ashtadhyayi of Panini. Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1997 (1891).

GOSVAMI, Jiva. Tr. Swami Purushatraya and Yadu Dasa. Harinamamrta Vyakarana. (non-published).

Nenhuma resposta

Samizdat (second text, Protišedi).

Culture,Literature -- 22 / July / 2013


Here is my second text-post at Czech cultural magazine Protišedi:


In English:  http://www.protisedi.cz/article/another-literature


In Czech:  http://www.protisedi.cz/article/jina-literatura-0


Hope you enjoy the reading.



Nenhuma resposta

First post at Protišedi.

Notices -- 21 / June / 2013


Here is my first text at Protišedi, a Czech cultural magazine:

In English

In Czech

Hned se vrátím…


Nenhuma resposta

Artigos mais antigos »