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[Xmca-l] Re: no primitive language?

Your most and the attachment is remarkably pertinent, Henry. Thank you!
I think from a list-protocol point of view, I think that (1) As Luisa suggested, providing links and documents supporting a thread is to be encouraged, and (2) More or less as Martin suggested, when introducing a work or writer to a thread, one ought to provide a synopsis or what it says or what it proves. So I have copied the abstract below.

   "We argue that the evolution of symbolic capacity has resulted in
   three unprecedented modifications of hominid cognitive and emotional
   predispositions that are particularly relevant for explaining some
   of the more distinctive and enigmatic characteristics of religion:
   (1) a predisposition to understand worldly events and one’s own
   identity and place within the world in narrative terms; (2) a
   predisposition to conceive of the world as two-layered, so that some
   objects and events of mundane experience are like signs expressing
   meanings that concern a hidden and more fundamental level of
   existence; and (3) a capacity for what we describe as emergent
   emotional experiences that are of a higher order than primary
   evolved emotions, and which are in turn the source of transcendent
   forms of experience—often considered to be the most exalted aspects
   of a spiritual life."


*Andy Blunden*

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.

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 Blunden*

mike cole wrote:
Perhaps of interest with respect to Piraha?


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


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>

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?


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
primitive. Does it mean that the language is historically young? In
case, the most primitive language is probably modern Hebrew. Does it
that the language is grammatically simple? Which aspect of the grammar?

Let's take case, since this is Vygotsky's model for linguistic
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
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 Blunden*

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
ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

  Thanks, Carol.
  Can those "key characteristics" be given in a few lines?
  *Andy Blunden*

  Carol Macdonald wrote:


      It's true.  Languages all share key characteristics.


      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
          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.

          --            ------------------------------
          *Andy Blunden*

      --         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:
Linguistics, Unisa