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And for example we currently have an International English that non English speakers are evolving. It is simpler as you'd expect and it is diverging from English as first language... but of course it has a far bigger vocabulary than Up Goer Five speak...
Languages are dynamic and people adapt them constantly adding new shades of meaning, borrowing words, coining new ones... most slang gets invented and dropped but some stay on if they fill a need. And probably language fad words and expressions drive the changes over time... and linked to the needs people have for what their words mean...
So let's say some kids and teens who speak this lingo get marooned somewhere and have to start civilization all over again... they would add on to the limited language over time... kids especially are the vanguard of language plasticity... and Teens add another layer of novel words and associations...
Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)
by IreGyre on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:35:12 PM PST
[ Parent ]
Those are amalgams that are limited by the fact of their being used as bridges across two fully-developed languages. They benefit from being able to draw from two completely realized lexicons and symbolic networks. That's very different from simply contracting one language.
Youth generate a lot of emotional and social relationship-based words; technology sectors generate a lot of nouns; but the complex conceptual words that really elevate a language to its highest potential only come from a critical mass of connections that isn't possible when there are too few abstract terms. If kids had to start civilization over again, it would just be pure hunter-gatherer, and its abstractions would all concern emotion and social hierarchies. There would be no room for intellectual exploration.
This is why it takes so damn long to evolve from hunter-gatherer tribalism to complex civilization. Physically modern human beings wandered around for like 50,000 years before they started building things. It just plain never occurred to them until that point.
Pour yourself into the future.
by Troubadour on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:47:50 PM PST
by limited language scope and few challenges or enrichment from other languages and groups. And especially if there is no written form. An example of a young language that had to use a lot of repeated sounds from a smaller starting palette of phonemes and basic vocabulary to expand the language is Hawaiian. Now that is just from the point of view of the sounds and root words/syllables it has been built up with. And that directly relates to
the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the idea that language affects the way we act, the way we think, and the way we perceive the world around us.
Hunter gatherer societies can have very rich and sophisticated conceptual frameworks and understanding of their place in the world and detailed knowledge of their environment and their social hierarchies and relationships all woven into supernatural belief structures but they evolved that over many, many thousands of years... and written language would still have taken a very long time to develop if at all given the geographic limitations in most places.
And as you say a group of young humans starting out almost from scratch would take many thousands of years to evolve a long and rich set of traditions and a language to match and ultimately with no guarantee of moving to words and thinking that transcend day to day survival, relationships and superstition.
So a thought experiment on language would seem to need the classic ingredients of the river valley, agricultural surpluses and early urbanization with key livestock along with multiple ongoing interactions with other people and languages to end up with a language that evolved to written literature and complexities of thought that transcend day to day survival or constricted ritual superstition.
by IreGyre on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:16:20 AM PST
In a parallel vein to starting up a new language from sparse beginnings there is the idea of intentionally re-edited languages. The writer Jack Vance explored the idea of re-tailoring language as a means of control or change of the way a society thinks or even can or can't think in his novel "The languages of Pao"... one of the few I have run into besides "1984".
While the book is not one of his best... the attempt to see what language manipulation could do was at least intriguing even if it was not really convincing...
The basic premise of the story revolves around the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which basically boils down to the fact that language affects the way we act, the way we think, and the way we perceive the world around us. In The Languages of Pao, this is explored by the invention of three different languages that are introduced to three equal parts of the same population; the population of Pao, people who are generally bland, abhor violence, and show passive-aggressive behaviour. Of course, these three languages completely change the three population groups, leading to general anarchy and troubles for the main character(s) of the book.
by IreGyre on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:18:15 AM PST
by you on soon
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