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Hi all,

On Mon, 31 Oct 2005, Tom Chappell wrote: 

> It's a fact that every human natlang must be learnable by an infant
> who knows no language at all.  
... [snip]
> This fact actually puts non-trivial constraints on the class of all
> possible human natlangs.  Knowing these constraints, in turn, aids
> the learner in learning the language from the sparse data available.
> The same is true when an adult learns an L2.

... [snip]
> A good story would be:
> Two linguists -- a human and a non-human -- are assigned to teach
> each other one each of their own languages, and learn each one of the
> other's languages.  
... [snip]

> What does anyone think?
> Any comment welcome.

Tom, I think you're onto some interesting ideas here.

Remembering that most people don't find the study 
of languages (other than their L1) inherently valuable,
if you mean the above sketch as a possible plot line for
a novel or longer short story, you might need to find
some way to make the protagonists more appealing to
a  broader audience.

I've always been fascinated by all aspects of learning;
the most amazing fact is that it's possible at all.  So I
think that any attempt, such as yours in the message 
above, to model the constraints and the resulting 
constrained behaviour in learning, must be worthy of
serious consideration.  You've gone further than any-
one I've seen in a lay (non-academic) context to model 
those constraints.  With regard to the constraints you
have listed, I have two questions:

(1)  Did you arrive at them a priori, or do you have
objective evidence for them?

(2)  Given that some alien lifeform may have a system
of communication ("language") that uses different
senses than human natlangs do. to what extent might
this invalidate your constraints, or require their 
extension?

Regards,
Yahya

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