last changed in 2002
A symbolic network is a network of concepts; i.e. each node in the network corresponds to one concept, and each link corresponds to some fact ('proposition') about the two concepts concerned. It is called 'symbolic' to distinguish it from 'neural networks', in which there is no direct correspondence between nodes and concepts because each concept corresponds to a particular state of the total network rather than to a single node. However a symbolic network is also different from a system of 'rules and representations in mentalese' because it is a network , with all the structure that this implies. Theoretical debate in psycholinguistics often assumes a straight choice between 'connectoplasm' and 'mentalese' (Pinker 97 chapter 2), but symbolic networks are different from both. For further discussion, see Hudson 1998.
This is an article from the Encyclopedia of Word Grammar and English grammar. If you refer to it, please give the url as "http://tinyurl.com/wg-encyc".