Fwd: Complexity

A. Katz amnfn at well.com
Fri Mar 18 20:06:05 UTC 2011


Yes, there's constant recycling: syntax to morphology, morphology to 
phonology, and so on and so forth. Old roots get lost, new roots form from 
multimorphemic units that are fused, lost grammatical morphology is 
replaced by syntax which eventually becomes morphology again.

Nowhere is there any evidence that all these changes lead to "progress." 
The basic information conveying function of language remains the same.


On Fri, 18 Mar 2011, jess tauber wrote:

> 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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