diachronic compensation

Michael C. Morrison 8-543-4706 mmorrison at VNET.IBM.COM
Wed Jan 14 14:15:35 UTC 1998

----------------------------Original message----------------------------
*** Reply to note of Tue, 13 Jan 1998 09:32:26 -0500 (EST)
*** by fcosw5 at mbm1.scu.edu.tw
Steven Schaufele <fcosw5 at mbm1.scu.edu.tw> writes:
>Wrt Larry Trask's recent question about (if i understand him correctly)
>a shorthand label for the observation that diachronic `simplification'
>in one area of a language's (e.g.) grammar is typically compensated for
>by a relative `complication' in another,
I suggest we could borrow a term from Physics and change its meaning
appropriately:  The Equivalence Principle.  For comparative and
historical linguistics, it would mean that all languages are
_equivalently_ complex, but obviously not complex in the same ways.
And any change to one system or subsystem of a language _maintains_
the overall complexity of the language -- one part gets simpler as
another becomes more complex.
Alternately, we could call it the Law of Simplification ... ;)
(I'm just not sure it warrants being called a Law)
Michael C. Morrison   Santa Teresa Laboratory      Phone (408)463-4706
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