On Everett & Piraha: "history holds the key"

jess tauber phonosemantics at earthlink.net
Tue Apr 24 20:16:50 UTC 2007

Plato and Confucius- may hap so....  but might not different language types correlate with different strategies of backgrounding versus foregrounding information, which itself may say something about the stability of the generic lifestyles of speakers? Fixity of combination, in polysynthesis, for instance, may imply reliance on formula, deep backgrounding, communicative efficiency, perhaps less willingness to experiment in long-term straitened circumstances. Do analytical/isolating languages tend to come from 'easier' environments allowing for more leisure and play, both in living and communicating?

Has anyone ever done a study to ascertain whether anything like this might be the case?

Jess Tauber
phonosemantics at earthlink.net

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