Print

Print


On 2013-01-16 at 22:57:06 +0100, Mathieu Roy wrote:
> Even a language with two words wouldn't be countable. Only a language with
> one word would be.

to be countable you only need a way to list every possible sentence 
in order; with two words (A and B) it's quite easy, just start 
with one word sentences

1: A, 2: B

followed by two words sentences, in alphabetical order

3: AA, 4: AB, 5: BA, 6: BB

three words

7: AAA, 8: AAB, 9: ABA, ...

etc., and then remove anything which is not allowed by your syntax.

As somebody else mentioned, you can get language where the number of
sentences is non-countable if you have sentences that are actually
infinitely long (and not just arbitrarly long, but finite); 
another way would probably be to allow for a non-countable number 
of words, which would require them to be actually infinitely long.

Since humans tend to have a finite lifespan, and words need a 
finite time to be pronounced, nobody can actually use an infinite 
sentence, so (at least on earth, today) it is impossible to have 
a noncountable natlang (and that would exclude also a noncountable 
naturalistic conlang, IMHO).

It is easy to immagine a conculture where a priestly class spends 
their time constructing infinite sentences in a relay (possibly 
while tending to the village's eternal fire?), but then 
I wouldn't be so sure that these sentences are part of a *language*, 
since the communication part would be quite limited.

-- 
Elena ``of Valhalla''