A recursive rule is one which can be applied over and over again to its own output. For example, the rule 'if n is a multiple of 5, then so is n+5 ' is recursive, since it applies to n, n+5, (n+5)+5, etc. Thus, a recursive rule has the potential to generate an infinite output. Recursive rules in language are thought to account in part for productivity--for the human capacity of producing and comprehending an unlimited number of sentences. (Consider the rule 'if an expression t is grammatical (e.g. 'he talked '), then so is the expression t & t ( 'he talked and he talked ').) |
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