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[Xmca-l] Re: no primitive language?



Martin:

I think you do know more about this than I do, but none of us knows enough.
The whole problem with the Piraha debate is that the data is just not
accessible to us, because there are so few people who understand Piraha and
who understand some other language, and there are--as far as I can figure
out--no people who both understand Piraha and some other language and
understand that the distinction between morphemes and words is a
conventional one based on Standard Average European, and so is the
distinction between words and clauses. Even if there were such persons,
there are none who understand that the distinction between a clause and a
turn in a dialogue is largely an artifact of written language.

As far as I know, nobody is claiming that Piraha is not dialogically
recursive--that is, nobody is saying that you cannot refer to what someone
just said in Piraha. That is enough, for me, to prove that Piraha is
recursive: that, had we world enough and time, Piraha can say anything that
needs to be said in Piraha. So Piraha is a language which (like Hawaiian)
has a rather austere and economical sound system, a lexicon perfectly
adapted to its environment, and the ability to produce an infinitely long
dialogue we call culture. Can infinity ever be called primitive?

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

On 27 December 2014 at 20:57, Martin John Packer <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
wrote:

> David, I know you know more about this than I know....  but the debate
> today centers on the Pirahã, no? Do they have color terms? Do they have
> number terms? Do they have recursion?
>
> Martin
>
> On Dec 27, 2014, at 5:35 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Well, of course Carol's really right, Andy. We need to say what we mean
> by
> > primitive. Does it mean that the language is historically young? In that
> > case, the most primitive language is probably modern Hebrew. Does it mean
> > that the language is grammatically simple? Which aspect of the grammar?
> >
> > Let's take case, since this is Vygotsky's model for linguistic complexity
> > in the Lectures. Annaluisa will tell you about Sanskrit's eight cases;
> > modern Tamil has seven; Greek and Latin had about six. Tsez, in the
> > mountains of the Caucasus, has 64 cases (mostly locatives).
> >
> > English is probably the most primitive languages in the world from this
> > point of view; it has a distinction between "I" and "me" and "he" and
> "him"
> > but that's about it.
> >
> > David Kellogg
> > Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On 27 December 2014 at 19:14, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
> >
> >> Thanks, Carol. :)
> >> I am OK from here then.
> >> Much appreciated.
> >> Andy
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> *Andy Blunden*
> >> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>
> >>
> >> Carol Macdonald wrote:
> >>
> >>> Syntax, semantics. pragmatics, phonology, discourse orientation: they
> >>> just give their own version of these aspects.
> >>>
> >>> On 27 December 2014 at 12:10, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:
> >>> ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>    Thanks, Carol.
> >>>    Can those "key characteristics" be given in a few lines?
> >>>    Andy
> >>>    ------------------------------------------------------------
> >>> ------------
> >>>    *Andy Blunden*
> >>>    http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>>    <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>    Carol Macdonald wrote:
> >>>
> >>>        Andy
> >>>
> >>>        It's true.  Languages all share key characteristics.
> >>>
> >>>        Carol
> >>>
> >>>        On 27 December 2014 at 12:02, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net
> >>>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net> <mailto:ablunden@mira.net
> >>>        <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>>> wrote:
> >>>
> >>>            I have heard, and I believe it to be the case, that there
> >>>        is no
> >>>            such thing as a "primitive language."
> >>>            I am not talking about the "language" of children raised in
> >>>            isolation, or the "home sign" of deaf children, I mean
> >>>        among the
> >>>            languages of actual historical peoples.
> >>>            I would just appreciate that if this is wrong, could
> >>>        someone on
> >>>            this list who knows about this kind of thing disabuse me.
> >>>            Otherwise I will assume this to be factual.
> >>>
> >>>            Thanks
> >>>            Andy
> >>>            --            ------------------------------
> >>> ------------------------------------------
> >>>            *Andy Blunden*
> >>>            http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
> >>>        <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
> >>>            <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>        --         Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
> >>>        Developmental psycholinguist
> >>>        Academic, Researcher,  and Editor Honorary Research Fellow:
> >>>        Department of Linguistics, Unisa
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> --
> >>> Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
> >>> Developmental psycholinguist
> >>> Academic, Researcher,  and Editor Honorary Research Fellow: Department
> of
> >>> Linguistics, Unisa
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>
>
>
>