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[Xmca-l] Re: no primitive language?



I am assuming that Andy’s question does not represent a new thread, that it is about properties of human language. So, I wonder if the attached article by Deacon is relevant and convincing. I hope this does not violate etiquette to introduce a reading. Perhaps someone on the chat is familiar with Deacon. I got the articles from Holbrook and found it very interesting.
Henry



> On Dec 27, 2014, at 6:46 PM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:
>
> Thank you all for your authoritative responses to my question.
> I have a follow up.
> Do we know if there any ancient culture which does not have some kind metaphysics, religion - polytheistic or monotheistic or practical, or other like system of making sense of the universe?
>
> Andy
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
>
>
> mike cole wrote:
>> 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
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>           
>>>>
>>>>     
>>
>>
>>
>> 
>

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