[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: no primitive language?



David,
I could not resist citing you one more time on your conclusion to Saussure:

And getting linguistics right takes a lot more than just one life.
Saussure "corrected" his brilliant work on historical linguistics by
utterly turning his back on culture and on history, and in so doing
invented twentieth century structuralism. In his defense, he did tell his
wife and his students to burn the mansuscript of his General Course and not
to publish it; Bally and Sechehaye disobeyed his dying wishes. As Larry's
article suggests, he tried, too late, to correct his  correction.  And so
the evil men do lives after them.

David, it is this "reciprocal approach" captured in your commentary that I
find fascinating.

Now to return to the notion of "tool" and "sign" and "object".

Heidegger has explored this "theme" with his understanding that a "tool"
[such as a hammer] in its function AS "tool" disappears [or is concealed]
within the "lived horizon of participating within worlds" He calls this
"approach" "tool" as  "ready to hand".

Heidigger, however, contrast this "approach" [as tools] to the "approach"
of making "assertions about tools". THIS assertive mode where we point to
the tool AS "object" creates a profound shift in how we participate in
cultural-historical "worlds"  This moving away from understanding artifacts
AS "tools" and towards approaching these same artifacts AS "objects" is the
move to artifacts as being "on hand" [in contrast to ready to hand].

Heidegger says there is a profound shift in the meaning of "as"

The objective "as" and the existential-hermeneutical "as".
If interested this came from page 138 of Richard Palmer's book
[Hermeneutics].  Palmer reads hermeneutics as historical "responses" to
previous works or projects. I am interested in Gadamer's "response to
Heidegger"

Larry


On Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 2:00 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> Verily, the good men do is oft interred with their bones....  Saussure
> was a brilliant historical linguist, who made amazing contributions to the
> reconstruction of proto-Indo-european, the language which ties our own
> tongues to Sanskrit. As part of these contributions, he was faced with the
> task of working out the vowel and consonant system of a language that
> nobody had spoken for thousands of years. How did he do it?
>
> By inventing structuralism. He figured out, quite correctly, that in order
> to be comprehensible, phonological systems had to have perceptible
> oppositions. So if you had a high front vowel like "i" at one end of your
> mouth you had to have a low back vowel like "ou" at the other end. By
> working backwards from the sounds we use today, Saussure was able to
> reconstruct a whole system of laryngeal contrasts that probably haven't
> been used in two thousand years. Fifty years AFTER his death, Hittite texts
> were discovered that show that his guess was probably right.
>
> Now, here's the mystery. After a brilliant career as a historical linguist,
> Saussure suddenly declared war on history and decided to try to construct a
> linguistics that was, rather like the extant ideas of mathematics, a purely
> abstract and timeless system. Not ony sounds but also words and even
> grammatical features like tense were to be understood in relation to each
> other, not in relation to any actual human needs.
>
> This turns out to explain the relationship of SOUNDING to WORDING quite
> well. But as Larry points out (and as Vygotsky points out in his discussion
> of why you can call a dog a cow and a cow a dog but you can't call a
> blackbird a redwing and vice versa) it is a really terrible way to think
> about the relationship of WORDING to MEANING. In other words, arbitrariness
> is a good way to talk about phonology, and a terrible way to talk about
> grammar. There's a very good reason why verbs have tenses and nouns have
> plurals. You can do it the other way around if you really want (and in fact
> English, unlike Korean, does have the annoying property of using "s" on
> singular VERBS and then using 's' on plural NOUNS). But not so much and not
> for long: the relationship of wording to meaning is just not conventional
> in the way that the relationship of wording to sounding is.
>
> And that brings us back to Andy's question. We can argue, as Saussure did,
> that there are certain sounds that are "primitive" (Saussure believed that
> laryngeal sounds were energy consuming and died out as a result, and I
> suppose you could make the same argument for click languages like
> isiXhosa). But when we make this argument we should be clear that what we
> are calling "primitive" is really the baroque--a kind of extravagance that
> some societies choose to lavish on language and others prefer to expend on
> furniture. It is much harder to argue that some words are more primitive
> than others simply because wordings evolve in social settings (anybody who
> has tried to cook Chinese food in an English speaking environment will tell
> you that English, despite its very rich vocabulary for roasting, baking,
> grilling, etc, is not a good language for frying , while Chinese is exactly
> the opposite, and it's easy to imagine that our vocabulary would be rather
> primitive for describing hunting conditions in the Kalahari). And at the
> level of grammar, which is by its very nature systemic, this argument is
> simply impossible.
>
> Here is the kernel of truth in Chomsky's idea that all languages, on an
> abstract level, have the same grammar, and Derrida's comment that we all
> speak only one language but the language we speak is not one. As Butzkamm
> puts it, you learn language exactly once; it just takes your whole life to
> get it right.
>
> And getting linguistics right takes a lot more than just one life.
> Saussure "corrected" his brilliant work on historical linguistics by
> utterly turning his back on culture and on history, and in so doing
> invented twentieth century structuralism. In his defense, he did tell his
> wife and his students to burn the mansuscript of his General Course and not
> to publish it; Bally and Sechehaye disobeyed his dying wishes. As Larry's
> article suggests, he tried, too late, to correct his  correction.  And so
> the evil men do lives after them.
>
> David Kelllogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>
>
> On 28 December 2014 at 05:23, <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > I wrote out a section of an article by Franson Manjali exploring the
> > *social* and the *cognitive* in Saussure’s understanding of language. It
> > may add to this conversation on the lexical and the grammatical aspects
> of
> > language. It is only one page I quoted but the article is fascinating
> > exploring the themes of more and less arbitrary systems of language and
> its
> > regularity.
> >
> > Annalisa, the beginning of the article explores Saussure’s debt to the
> > Vedic scholars of language.
> >
> >
> > The article is published at [Texto! Volume XVll, number 3, (2012). I
> could
> > add more if others are interested, or the linguists among us could answer
> > Franson Manjali reading of the *social*
> >
> > Larry
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Sent from Windows Mail
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > From: Martin John Packer
> > Sent: ‎Saturday‎, ‎December‎ ‎27‎, ‎2014 ‎3‎:‎57‎ ‎AM
> > To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > 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
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>>
> > >>
>