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[Xmca-l] Re: no primitive language?



OK, so we are in agreement that there is no ancient culture that did not have some kind of metaphysics. The thing about having a metaphysics is that people leave material traces of their metaphysical beliefs, and as I understand it (I am open to correction here too), the traces of burial rituals, cave paintings, decorative objects d'art, and so on, go back before homo sapiens sapiens. Or is it not that far? Is it possible to tell from fossil evidence at what point hominids had sufficient development around the larynx and so on to make complex speech? I am sure there are lots of people on this list who know about this sort of stuff. On the basis of religious artefacts and hominid fossils, what do we know about which came first and do both go back before homo sapiens sapiens. Because we don't know what spoken languages were like in those days; we only have fossils and solid artefacts. I know I am being lazy here. I could be using Google. But it is the holiday season and I am sure no-one minds.
Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Andy Blunden 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