Fwd: Complexity

Rong Chen rchen at csusb.edu
Fri Mar 18 16:14:18 UTC 2011

True. However, one wonders if the complexity shown in written language also
shows up in the oral, spontaneous form, a form that is believed to be the
"real" form of language. Besides, even if a person's written language has
affected her own speech, it is still doubtful if her speech will make much
(or any?) difference on the speech of the entire community. 

So, I am inclined to agree with what Aya seems to imply: language will
change, but probably not in terms of complexity (Complexity in one aspect is
often compensated for by simplicity in another) or versatility (A language
is always versatile; All languages are equally versatile for the purposes in
their respective speech communities).


-----Original Message-----
From: funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu
[mailto:funknet-bounces at mailman.rice.edu] On Behalf Of Daniel Everett
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2011 10:45 PM
To: Angus B. Grieve-Smith
Cc: Funknet Funknet
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Fwd: Complexity

This is an important point. As Ong and Goody have shown, literacy can affect
grammar in interesting ways. That is another example, by the way, of culture
playing a direct role in shaping (at least parts of) grammars.


On Mar 18, 2011, at 9:59 AM, Angus B. Grieve-Smith wrote:

> This may have been addressed earlier in the discussion, but if so, I
missed it.
> As Givón and others have written in the past, written varieties of
language provide more time for editing, which allows people to use and
maintain more complex structures. A community of specialist scholars can
enable even more elaborate structures to exist, and these are often
attracted to liturgical and poetic languages. In contrast, spontaneous
conversation allows almost no time for editing, and generally requires a
minimum amount of content to be conveyed.
> I would suggest we keep these factors in mind as possible motivators and
enablers of complexity.
> -- 
> 				-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
> 				Saint John's University
> 				grvsmth at panix.com

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