Print

Print


At 02:05 PM 9/4/98 BST, James Chandler wrote:
>I was going to post this before the big crash.  It is a footnote from p. 89
>of the Loom of Language by F. Bodmer, but the note is by the editor, ie.
>L. Hogben:
>
>-----
>"Grammarians have oscillated between two views.  According to one,
>primitive speech was made up of discrete monosyllables like Chinese.  Under
>the influence of Jespersen and his disciples, the pendulum has now swung to
>the opposite extreme, and primitive speech is supposed to be holophrastic,
>i.e. without discrete words.  [  ................  ]   To this
>extent (see p. 51) the recognition of some sounds as _words_ is presumably
>as old as the first flint instruments.  Conversely, other formal elements
>which we also call _words_ are products of grammatical comparison.  They
>do not emerge from the speech matrix before the written record compels
>closer analysis."
>                                       (EDITOR)
>
>-----
>I would make some points:
>  [  ................................  ]
>James Chandler
>[log in to unmask]
>
This looks like being a bit more meaty than the usual discussion, and one
for which I must do the required reading, viz: _Loom of Language_.
   Before attempting this challenge, I would say that casual reading for
me, so far, has come out with evidence supporting the "particulate" side of
the leger.
 
   Obviously, James has read Jesperson's writings, for which I would
appreciate a reccommendation on the best place to start.
   My understanding is that Cyberspace, Machine Translation and Artificial
Intelligence have somewhat displaced the former understandings of the
source of language .. as far as Interlanguage Theory goes.
Nothwithstanding, I will have to try to follow the reasons for harking back
to such 'pre-electronic' thinking.
 
   While I know that 'students' of Interlanguage feel the need for a
thorough historic understanding of the field, this historicisation still
amazes me.  However, I know that when, or if-ever, our "leaders" ask for
investigation of the IAL Hypothesis, they will automatically request a
historical overview of the field reaching back, of course, at least to the
start of the Royal Society in the Renaissance.
  The element of ultraconservatism among language researchers struck me
when I first tried to correct the spelling of those who erroniously spelt
Glosa with two "S"s.  While I know that Hogben spelt "Interglossa" in the
English mode, I had assumed, wrongly, that Interlinguists were intelligent
enough to get their spelling right: but, this has not always been the case,
and, for some, 'history' has triumphed over exactitude.
 
  Casual reasons for thinking Hogben, in his introduction, might be right:-
   . Research into the language learning of children deals with their
speech in the smallest of units, IE one sound = one kiddie-concept.
   . Analysis of earliest languages ... such as Sumerian heiroglyphs,
primitive Chinese characters, and the words of the Huna (each made up of
smaller elements) ... suggests that the small bits of words came before the
compounding of lexical units into larger phrasal 'words.'
   . Though the Sapir-Wharf Hypothesis is unprovable, it does appear to
have a lot of 'intuition' in its favour.
 
   So, obviously, I must see what Jesperson has said to disturb my
non-rigorous understandings of the etiology of language.  And I would also
like to check through James's list of 'Points'.
 
   Personal Note.  Such language research might take a little longer than I
would like: next Friday I have andoscopy to find out which sort of heart
operation I need.  I am currently 'resting' and will soon probably be
recouperating.  Will have to play it by ear, for a bit.
 
Saluta,
 Robin