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>From: John Cowan <[log in to unmask]>
>
>Mat McVeagh scripsit:
>
> > There is no reason to suppose there
> > were anything like that many languages in the ancient world. Instead, on
> > account of the factors I mentioned in my other reply, there would have
>been
> > little language variation and slow language change. So however many
> > beginnings there were to human languages, one or more, it was not many,
>and
> > the breaking up of all those cultures into smaller units has taken all
>this
> > time.
>
>I find that difficult to believe.  I suspect that once the world was
>fully populated, the number of languages was as large as it was ever
>going to be.

What is fully populated? I think you mean all areas of the glober were
settled. But maybe all parts of the globe were, that doesn't mean every nook
and cranny. On the contrary, people were much more thinned out. So, there
was a lot less language to vary. And the points I made in the other post -
that language change would have been slow because social change was slow,
and that there were fewer things and processes to name and so less to be
different about - still hold.

>It is only forces like long-range trade, modern education,
>and high-tech settlement (as in Northern China, Australia, the Americas)
>that spread single languages over large areas.

Nomadism?

All the ancient cultures up to a certain point were hunter-gatherer. Altho
people were thinned out, they would have kept bumping into each other. Altho
they would have developed dialectal variation they would also have had
reason to assimilate language forms from meeting each other. Thus, it is not
a single language being spread over large areas, it is a language form
gradually disseminating as a newish tribe spreads out and moves around over
a largish area.

>The rule in most parts of the Third World is that speech is noticeably
>different
>in the next village and has become unintelligible after you have
>traveled 100 km.

..because they've mostly settled now. (Seems a bit of an exaggeration
anyway.)

Mat


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