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[Xmca-l] Re: no primitive language?



Perhaps of interest with respect to Piraha?
mike

------------------------
http://www.ascentofhumanity.com/chapter2-7.php

On Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 2:45 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> 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
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>
> >
> >
> >
>



-- 
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal with a natural science as an object
that creates history. Ernst Boesch.

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