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Do you think I believe you hope…? The power of recursion


Levshina,  Natalia
Neurobiology of Language Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Levshina, N. (2021). Do you think I believe you hope…? The power of recursion. MPI TalkLing.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0008-89BD-9
In my previous post, I wrote about recursion – self-same replication, when a rule or procedure is applied to its own successive results. Some linguists argue that recursion is a defining aspect of human language: our grammar allows us to combine words into more complex structures, which are in their turn combined into even more complex structures, similar to Matryoshka dolls. I, however, argued that recursion in grammar does not quite live up to its current central status in theory of language as this hierarchical use of rules is present in most if not all aspects of life. But does this mean that recursion is something trivial and boring? By no means! Like a magic wand, it allows us, notoriously social animals, to understand and communicate with each other in a very efficient and flexible way.