At 4:26 am +0000 18/10/98, Tommie Powell wrote: >Nik Taylor wrote: > >> Tommie Powell wrote: >> > And I don't think >> > we should ignore them, when the only natural languages that resemble >>computer >> > programming languages are languages of Stone Age people. >> >> I'm having a hard time believing this. Could you point me to the >> research that leads to your characterizing these languages as resembling etc. >Sure, Nik. Such languages are very easy to spot: Just look for an example >of how a >language actually says something -- anything -- and if that expression is >presented >as a one-word sentence, you're almost certainly looking at what I call a >Stone Age >language. With respect - rubbish. What you're looking at is a language with POLYSYNTHETIC structure. I know of NO evidence whatever that such languages are "Stone Age". Indeed, it has often been observed, rightly IMHO, that although the _written_ French pretends that the language is an inflexional one that's hardly changed since the 13th century, the modern _spoken_ language is essentially polysynthetic. But I don't observe that French society has been moving towards the Stone Age since the 13th century! > >I found an example on the Internet today, at >http://www.mcn.net/~wleman/cheyenne.htm > >The example is a Cheyenne "word" 18 syllables long, and means "I truly do not >pronounce Cheyenne well." The reason it's a single "word" is that you >cannot break >its "morphenes" apart and rearrange them to express that thought in any >other way. There is no need to put 'word' or 'morpheme' in double quotes. 18 syllable long words are not exactly uncommon and the morphemes _are_ morphemes; it's just that most morphemes are bound in polysynthetic languages. [snip] > >na=I, ohke=regularly, saa=not (first half), oneseome=truly, peheve=good/well, >tsehest=Cheyenne, o'ane=pronounce, he=not (last half). > >The first half and last half of "not" ("saa" and "he") are almost >certainly in the >string of syllables that dictate the type of expression, First half & second half of 'not' separated by a string of morphemes is hardly "Stone Age" or unknown over here in the old world, e.g. French: ne..........pas Welsh: ni(d)/ <initial mutation>........ddim Breton: ne.......ket [snip] >o-type morphene (pronounce) in the third blank. Then the speaker has the >option of >inserting the other morphenes where he/she did. The pro-complements in a verbal string in modern French are all bound morphemes and come in a very fixed order; the speaker has the option of inserting the bound morphemes in the required places. That neither makes modern French a "Stone Age" language nor 'computer-like'. Indeed, many linguists now prefer to treat the constructions found in "polysynthetic languages" as a complex of agglutinative & fusional structures. That speakers of mutually incomprehensible polynthetic languages should adopt an more isolating structure as they derive a trade pidgin is hardly surprising. Indeed, it'd be very surprised if it were not so. That doesn't mean that the pidgin is "more sloppy" - just has a different structure. Of course, it must be remembered that terms such as 'isolating', 'fusional' and 'agglutinative' show typological _tendencies_ rather than describe individual languages. Most natlangs seems to show varying aspects of these tendencies. Personally, I still have little doubt whatever that if I were to be transported back 4000 years or more I'd still find a variety of isolating, fusional & agglutinatives complexes in a wide variety of 'mixes'. Ray.