--- Andrew Nowicki <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Jens Wilkinson wrote:

> It is not. Having additional info encoded in
> a word is useful when you learn the language
> and when you listen to a speech in a noisy
> environment. If I hear a new African noun and
> its structure tells me it is shaped like a
> sheet, I can guess from the context what it
> is. This is how people really learn a language.
> (Infants do not use dictionaries.)

Actually, I was aware that babies don't use
dictionaries... I don't know, though, do they really
do it taxonomically? I always thought it was having
somebody point to an elephant and say "elephant" that
did it. The word "zebra" has not taxonomic meaning for
us, whereas for Japanese children, "shima-uma" meaning
"striped horse" may. But I can guarantee you that
American children learn the word for zebra just as
readily as their Japanese counterparts. 

I would never argue that compounding is a bad thing.
In places like medicine, it's a great thing to be able
to know that angiography is related to angiogenesis or
angiotensin. But if you think that children have any
clue what "pachyderm" means, they don't. And dinosaur
as well. For children, a dinosaur is a dinosaur. They
learn the word long before they learn (perhaps) where
"dino" and "saurus" come from. They learn it from the

-Jens Wilkinson

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