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Message 682536 - Posted: 22 Nov 2007, 13:54:23 UTC
Last modified: 22 Nov 2007, 13:55:58 UTC

From a slight diversion over on Un Chien D'espace

So why the (Human) language structures that we have now?

Perhaps the most noun classes in any Australian language are found in Yanyuwa, which has 16 noun classes, rather than just the three in English.

This one has an interesting focus: Klingon ([noun classes of] being capable of speaking, body part and other)



So...

What is the gramatically 'simplest' language to learn?
What is the most difficult or convoluted?
Are there any languages that are completely 'regular' (like computer languages)?
What is the most 'irregular' language?

And overall, why? (Differences, structure, divergence, or convergence?)

Do languages tend to evolve greater complexity or into greater simplicity?


And what might 'ET' speak or communicate?


And how does language shape how you think?...


That little lot should keep a few neurons buzzing until well after Christmas!

Cheers,
Martin

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Message 682549 - Posted: 22 Nov 2007, 14:30:20 UTC

Maybe you should ask Noam Chomsky. My linguistic knowledge include Italian, some Latin, English,French, Spanish, German, in decreasing order. But when I suggested that the Latin language could have been adopted by the European Community as a common language, following what has been done in Israel with Hebrew, I was violently opposed by the Esperanto lovers, who said Esperanto had the simplest grammar of all languages. This is a minefield, beware!
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Message 682559 - Posted: 22 Nov 2007, 14:55:49 UTC


AreCibo Message . . .


Given that all involved were of the same species, spoke the same language and were familiar, to some extent, with the workings of Drake's mind, some idea emerges of the problems to be faced in interstellar communication . . .





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Message 682718 - Posted: 22 Nov 2007, 19:54:55 UTC - in response to Message 682536.

And what might 'ET' speak or communicate?

We speak telepathically... ;)
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Message 683413 - Posted: 24 Nov 2007, 3:39:36 UTC - in response to Message 682536.

So why the (Human) language structures that we have now?
[…]
What is the gramatically 'simplest' language to learn?
What is the most difficult or convoluted?
Are there any languages that are completely 'regular' (like computer languages)?
What is the most 'irregular' language?

And overall, why? (Differences, structure, divergence, or convergence?)

Do languages tend to evolve greater complexity or into greater simplicity?

A few relevant items from the sci.lang Usenet group’s FAQ:
Are all languages equally complex, or are some more primitive than others?
How did genders and cases develop in I[ndo]E[uropean]?
Languages keep simplifying—how did they ever become complex?

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Message 685226 - Posted: 27 Nov 2007, 14:40:38 UTC - in response to Message 683413.
Last modified: 27 Nov 2007, 14:42:54 UTC

Thanks for those links. Very interesting.

So... From the Pidgin and Creole examples, it looks like we naturally develop a certain expressive complexity...

I guess it's then a question of how that needed expressiveness gets formulated into grammar and syntax.

I also guess that any live language in use has got to be 'simple' enough that all the speakers can speak it!

A controversial question is whether the average "communication intelligence" is implied by what your mother-tongue language might be. The comments there suggest that all non-Pidgin languages are similarly expressive...


OK, so what oddities are there?

Keep searchin',
Martin
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Message 686542 - Posted: 30 Nov 2007, 1:13:18 UTC - in response to Message 685226.
Last modified: 30 Nov 2007, 1:15:46 UTC

Thanks for those links. Very interesting.

So... From the Pidgin and Creole examples, it looks like we naturally develop a certain expressive complexity...

I guess it's then a question of how that needed expressiveness gets formulated into grammar and syntax.

I also guess that any live language in use has got to be 'simple' enough that all the speakers can speak it!

A controversial question is whether the average "communication intelligence" is implied by what your mother-tongue language might be. The comments there suggest that all non-Pidgin languages are similarly expressive...


OK, so what oddities are there?

Keep searchin',
Martin


Most linguists agree that ENGLISH is the most expressive language. That is, it is superior in expressing nuances of human thoughts and emotions. It may also be the hardest language to fully learn. Probably a true scholar would have to learn 600,000 words and be somewhat familiar with their origins. English has 46 phonemes--That means speaking it correctly is a chore for non-native speakers. There are 26 vowel sounds. These are mostly dipthongs like oe and ae and ou etc..

For instance the word "GHOTI" could certainly be pronounced "FISH"

ie: gh as F in enough
o as i in women (wimmen)
ti as sh in tion (shun)

I am not a linguist but I almost married one.

DADDIO
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Message 686754 - Posted: 30 Nov 2007, 13:49:21 UTC - in response to Message 686542.

Most linguists agree that ENGLISH is the most expressive language.

What?! And not French??

A good question is why English?


... English has 46 phonemes...

Is there a summary somewhere of number of languages vs number of phonemes? And any 'observations'?


For instance the word "GHOTI" could certainly be pronounced "FISH"...

That reminds me of the Australian pronunciation of "Loo Ga Ba Roo Ga" (Loughborough).


I am not a linguist but I almost married one.

Lost for words? Or lost in translation?

Ouch! Sorry!


Cheers,
Martin

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Message 688933 - Posted: 5 Dec 2007, 13:35:44 UTC

IMO

French is for romance.

German is for giving orders.

English is for telling lies.

;D
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Message 689347 - Posted: 6 Dec 2007, 20:29:07 UTC

Is Finnish easy?

In the galaxy far, far away they also speak Finnish! :)
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Message 689361 - Posted: 6 Dec 2007, 22:11:35 UTC - in response to Message 689347.

Is Finnish easy?

In the galaxy far, far away they also speak Finnish! :)

Wow!

It modifies and inflects the forms of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs, depending on their roles in the sentence...

... but you only have perhaps 300 root words!

So the rest are all synthesised by all the modification and inflection?!


Sounds even more obscure than Welsh...

Regards,
Martin

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Message 691163 - Posted: 13 Dec 2007, 18:40:06 UTC - in response to Message 688933.

IMO

French is for romance.

German is for giving orders.

English is for telling lies.

;D

Emperor Carlos V of Spain spoke German to his horse, Italian to ladies, French to ambassadors and Spanish to God. Today he would speak English to his computer.
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Message 691407 - Posted: 14 Dec 2007, 15:48:18 UTC - in response to Message 691163.

IMO

French is for romance.

German is for giving orders.

English is for telling lies.

;D

Emperor Carlos V of Spain spoke German to his horse, Italian to ladies, French to ambassadors and Spanish to God. Today he would speak English to his computer.
Tullio


I speak ASM to mine. ;-)
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Message 692378 - Posted: 17 Dec 2007, 22:27:14 UTC - in response to Message 686542.

Most linguists agree that ENGLISH is the most expressive language. That is, it is superior in expressing nuances of human thoughts and emotions.

Sorry, colour me skeptical. References, please? What sort of scale do they use to measure expressiveness?

If you’re talking about vocabulary, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if English has the largest. Our mongrel history has made it easy for us to borrow from other languages, which we do all the time … I recently read that even as long ago as the beginning of the sixteenth century the inventory of English words was growing by about six thousand per year.

But to me “expressive” connotes much more than having a large array of words to choose from. For one small example of what I mean, written ancient Greek has a verb tense called the epistolary aorist. Merely by using the corresponding form (i.e. adding a particular suffix to the verb stem), one could attach the implication “which will have taken place by the time you read this” to any statement, something we can’t do in English without a fair bit of extra verbiage. In general, many of the grammatical structures that have atrophied or disappeared from English can give those languages that have kept them the ability to express relationships in space and time more concisely and flexibly than we can.

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Message 693213 - Posted: 21 Dec 2007, 0:31:35 UTC - in response to Message 692378.

Most linguists agree that ENGLISH is the most expressive language. That is, it is superior in expressing nuances of human thoughts and emotions.

Sorry, colour me skeptical. References, please? What sort of scale do they use to measure expressiveness?

If you’re talking about vocabulary, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if English has the largest. Our mongrel history has made it easy for us to borrow from other languages, which we do all the time … I recently read that even as long ago as the beginning of the sixteenth century the inventory of English words was growing by about six thousand per year.

But to me “expressive” connotes much more than having a large array of words to choose from. For one small example of what I mean, written ancient Greek has a verb tense called the epistolary aorist. Merely by using the corresponding form (i.e. adding a particular suffix to the verb stem), one could attach the implication “which will have taken place by the time you read this” to any statement, something we can’t do in English without a fair bit of extra verbiage. In general, many of the grammatical structures that have atrophied or disappeared from English can give those languages that have kept them the ability to express relationships in space and time more concisely and flexibly than we can.


Sorry but I am out of my sphere of competence here. I was expressing a notion that I read long ago.

I think that compactness is not necessarily related to the ability to accurately convey an emotion or subtle feeling. I don't know how you would decide the question unless you had a jury that was equally skilled in all of the relevant languages --this is not likely to ever occur.

The inclusion of foreign phrases adds to the the nuances that can be expressed within what we call the "English" language. Phrases such as savoire faire, faux pas and bleu probably express meaning better than what could be assembled from more "conventional "English".

There is no doubt that the Normans (French) and the Romans influenced the bulk of our etymology.

regards,

Bill
AKA DADDIO

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Message 693902 - Posted: 23 Dec 2007, 9:41:18 UTC - in response to Message 689361.


... but you only have perhaps 300 root words!
So the rest are all synthesised by all the modification and inflection?!


I am not quite sure about that root word issue, but surely it is possible to make many new words using inflection: kirja -> kirjanen, kirjasto, kirjallinen, kirjoittaa, ... :-)


Sounds even more obscure than Welsh...


Cool. ;-)

Henri.
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