Fwd: Complexity

jess tauber phonosemantics at earthlink.net
Fri Mar 18 16:10:29 UTC 2011

What about adding lexical complexity into the mix- grammar doesn't form in a vacuum. Isolating, analytical languages often seem to have ancient dead morphology (or its remnants) fused into smaller materials to yield larger numbers of 'roots', detectable only through historical analysis. At the other end polysynthetic languages have reduced numbers of simplex roots. I'd gather nobody has any idea how many times the basic lexicon has been through the mixer and grinder since language evolved. Formerly overtly expressed morphological content becomes covert and lexical, decoupled from its moorings and eventually, with historical change, unsupported cognitively. I would suppose that similar things can happen to the lexicon, or at least parts of it, where so much morphology has cumulated and fused, that the old lexical root gets lost in the shuffle (Chinook verbs, for example).

Jess Tauber
phonosemantics at earthlink.net

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