[Lingtyp] Fwd: Is written language a separate modality?
ian.joo at outlook.com
Wed Jan 2 08:26:21 UTC 2019
How about if one constructed a non-phonetic written conlang (that is, a conlang that does not use any phonetic letters, but rather soundless symbols)? In that case, it is not "anchored" towards any spoken language, but we can surely learn it and communicate in it.
Ian JOO (주이안)
From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de>
Sent: Wednesday, January 2, 2019 4:19:34 PM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Fwd: Is written language a separate modality?
My response would be that a deaf person who knows how to read and write in an oral language DOES "know" that language, to a very considerable extent. What you know when you know a language is an abstract system of rules that underlies both speech and writing but exists independently of both of these manifestations of language. Granted, a deaf person who can read and write an oral language will be missing out on more substantial aspects of the language (most of the phonetics and phonology) than a hearing but illiterate person. But still, a deaf person who can read and write Indonesian cannot but know lots of the language, rather like a contemporary hearing scholar of Ancient Sumerian. In contrast, a deaf signer of ASL does not have his or her linguistic competence anchored in any spoken language, such as English — sign languages are not parasitic on or derivative from any spoken languages. (Though there can be all kinds of contact between signed and spoken languages, but that's a separate issue.)
On 02/01/2019 17:01, Joo Ian wrote:
Thank you for your insight. However, I would not agree that learning spoken Indonesian is necessary for learning written Indonesian - the deaf Indonesians are a clear counterexample, as they never would have learned spoken Indonesian.
Ian JOO (주이안)
From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org><mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de><mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
Sent: Wednesday, January 2, 2019 3:56:30 PM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org<mailto:lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Is written language a separate modality?
On 02/01/2019 10:19, Joo Ian wrote:
I would like to ask everyone if you agree on the idea that written language is not simply a representation of spoken language, but a distinct modality (similar to how sign and spoken language are different modalities).
I would say yes and no, but more no ...
It seems that there is a general consensus that a written language is simply the “shadow” of a spoken language. But I am not sure if this is exactly the case.
You are right that this is not exactly the case. Case in point: Social media in Indonesia (and presumably other places as well) has innovated all kinds of conventions that are purely orthographic: they have a life of their own, beyond the language that they "come from". Emoticons are just one small aspect of this. if you "just" know Indonesian, but are not familiar with these conventions, you won't be able to follow a Facebook conversation "in Indonesian".
But here's the rub: knowing Indonesian isn't a sufficient condition for understanding such a Facebook conversation, but it's most definitely a necessary condition. Such orthographic systems are still derivative from the spoken language, the way a ludling might be, or, for that matter, the way signed versions of spoken languages, such as Signed English is.
But this is NOT the case for real sign languages. A sign language such as ASL has nothing whatsoever to do with any spoken language; you don't need to learn English to learn ASL, and for the most part it won't help you that much to do so. So the analogy between written language and sign language is of only limited validity and is potentially misleading.
-- David Gil Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany Email: gil at shh.mpg.de<mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de> Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834 Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
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Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10, 07745 Jena, Germany
Email: gil at shh.mpg.de<mailto:gil at shh.mpg.de>
Office Phone (Germany): +49-3641686834
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81281162816
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