Taylor 4 Prototype Categories II
Two main issues: • What exactly are prototypes? • Do ALL categories have a prototype structure?
4.1 Prototypes can be understood in two ways: 1) As a central member, an actual artifact 2) As a schematic representation of the conceptual core of a category -for this model, a given entity instantiates the prototype -for many categories (e.g. TALLNESS), only 2) is possible
What is Similarity? • Membership is assigned by virtue of similarity to the prototype • BUT: similarity is a difficult concept because • 1. it is a graded concept • 2. it is a subjective notion • 3. similarity is based on attributes, which themselves show prototype structure • (cf. Gentner’s “similarity space”)
Nominal Kinds • These are categories with essential conditions for membership. • The existence of such categories is not inconsistent with a prototype approach. • Facts of this type do not lead to all-or-nothing category membership.
Natural Kinds • These are categories with a clear boundary. • The existence of a clear boundary does not preclude prototype organization. • There can still be better & worse examples, gradience within the category.
4.2 Prototypes according to Langacker • Prototype – a typical instance of a category • Schema – an abstract characterization that is fully compatible with all members of the category it defines Either a schema or prototype + extensions may suffice. Taylor will focus on prototype + extensions, because not all categories yield schemas.
4.3 Folk Categories & Expert Categories • Even ODD NUMBER and EVEN NUMBER show prototype effects – small numbers (3 vs. 2, 4) are better examples • “Prototype effects…arise from an interaction of core meaning with non-linguistic factors like perception and world knowledge”
Folk vs. Expert Categories • Expert categories – defined by the imposition of a set of criteria for membership • Folk (natural) categories – structured around prototypical instances and grounded in how people normally perceive and interact with things in their environment
Folk vs. Expert Categories, cont’d. • Some words, like gold and water are subject to both expert and folk definitions. • The folk definition is prior to the expert one and is often used even when a person knows the expert one.
4.4 Hedges • Our everyday folk theory of what a category is contains the belief that categories are definable in terms of what their members have in common. • Language requires us to use one word (form) or another, to choose among categories – this reinforces the folk belief in discrete categories.
4.4 Hedges, cont’d. • Every language has hedges, which enable a speaker to express degree of category membership. • Some hedges: loosely speaking, strictly speaking, par excellence, technically • These words manipulate categories and boundaries
4.4 Hedges, cont’d. • Hedges provide evidence • That we distinguish between central and peripheral members (par excellence, strictly speaking) • That we distinguish between different degrees of non-membership (strictly speaking) • That category boundaries are flexible (loosely speaking) • That categories can be redefined by ad hoc selection and re-weighting of attributes (in that) • That in some cases categories are defined by classical principles, but these are felt to be exceptions (technically)