Analytic languages and their function. (4)

Salinas17 at Salinas17 at
Sun May 28 03:28:42 UTC 2006

In a message dated 5/27/06 7:01:33 PM, phonosemantics at writes:
<<With all due respect, pidgin speakers do not start from scratch. The words 
they use COME from other languages, with their own individual evolutionary 

Very true.  But for the purposes of this discussion re typology -- in theory 
-- pidgins represent the closest thing with we have to a language with the 
bare minimum of grammatical features.  ("...nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on 
tend to have only one invariant phonological form... The verbal root itself 
does not express any particular tense or aspect. When used in a clause, it is up 
to the listener to interpret this aspect of meaning in accord with the 
context.")  That is close enough to the form I'd suspect early languages would have 
taken.  The point is that form is more in the direction of analytic languages.

<<Twin-speech might come close, but then twins may be more easily able to 
come to mutual understanding, being clones, than the average genetically mixed 
population. >>

There's no real scientific evidence for any such thing and I'd suggest its 
just another expression of genomania.

<<I don't think bee communication is all that sophisticated compared to many 
communications of higher animals- for instance the growing known number of 
chimp food calls.>>

Bee communication is extremely sophisticated -- especially because it is 
truly representational -- especially in terms of mapping distance and direction.  
Wild chimps exhibit nothing as sophisticated in terms of intricate spatial 
representations.  Bird calls are far more intricate than any communications by 
chimps that has been credibly reported in the wild (in captivity, chimps have 
far outperformed their wild cousins).  The use of the term "higher animals" is 
just not good scientific terminology.  The efficency or effectiveness of 
exchange of communal information is not correlateable to the relatedness to humans 
as the crowns of creation.  Nor does it seem to be relateable to a species 
brain size.  If a species -- particularly communal species -- specializes in 
communication, it will demonstrate features that are very similar to human speech.  
The underlying mechanisms are of course quite different.

<<calls used in intraspecific conflicts and their resolutions were part of 
the same system of signal modulation, across quite a few different vertebrate 
species. >>

No reason to attribute this to heredity between species.  The environment 
will select the same formulas either as species specific adaptions or learned 
behavior.  However, I would like to see evidence that cats, dogs and rats share 
the "same system of signal modulation" -- I'm pretty sure they don't.

<<Can't assume English human as the standard reference model.>>

Nevertheless, any model that excludes English in terms of human language  
functioning is bound to be wrong.

Steve Long

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