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>From: Christopher Bates <[log in to unmask]>
>
>>>Concultures are needed to make religious, familial, food vocabulary,
>>>etc.,
>>>but I'm deeply suspicious of the langs that have cultural aspects to
>>>their
>>>grammar or morphology. It's Sapir-Whorf in reverse.
>>>
>>
>>Too true :)  It would be ridiculous to carry it very far (eek - cows?)
>>- but
>>culture surely does have an effect on language and vice versa, even if
>>the
>>relationship is subtle and hard to trace.  Any influence that a
>>culture has
>>on its language should be abstract and minimal, but I do think that
>>there is
>>room for it at the very least.
>>
>>Consider, for example, the effect that keyboards and spellcheckers are
>>having on English orthography these days... and its easy to see how a
>>culture that was deeply into poetry might influence their language
>>over time
>>to be more lyrical - call it aesthetic selection pressure (in the
>>evolutionary sense) that gradually molds the language.  Obviously, the
>>grammar would be one of the slower things to change, but...  I think,
>>like
>>anything, a little goes a long way with this sort of thing.
>>
>I don't think there is such a massive effect. Just this:
>
>a) words for concepts very important to a culture should be amongst the
>shorter words in the language generally
>b) vocabulary should exist to support what your culture is supposed to
>do. For instance, if your culture is based around the sea and fishing
>you need technical vocab suitable to boats and names for different kinds
>of fish etc
>
>I honestly don't think anything like poetic modification would happen in
>real life because you do not get whole populations of poetic people like
>that.
>
>Chris.

No, but you do get whole populations who favour a particular aesthetic, even
if only a few members of society are responsible for creating it.
Most people aren't poets, and they aren't fashion designers either, but
there are discernable trends in the general population as a result of what
poets and fashion designers do.  Traditional African music is radically
different to traditional European forms - where many kinds of music melody
and harmony, African percussionists use layers upon layers of rhythm to
create highly complex emergent patterns.  Such a culture must think about
music and rhythm very differently than others might.  I know nothing of
African languages, so whether this has had any influence over African
lingiustics, I can't say, but the idea that it might doesn't seem that far
fetched to me.

It also doesn't seem far fetched that if a culture lived according to a
particular philosophy long enough that it might influence their use of
language.  When I learned that in Irish you don't "have" an object, but it
is "at you" instead, I remember wondering if that had any influence on the
way that people thought about possession.  If you had a population, like say
a group of hunter-gatherers that did not believe in personal possession
(i.e. pretty much everything is shared by the group) then I think it is
reasonable to conclude that they might not say things like "That's my axe."
Possessives in such a language may only refer to an association, but not
necessarily denote control or absolute entitlement to an object - thus
grammatical references to possession might be used quite differently.

Andy





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