At 5:14 pm +0000 18/10/98, charles wrote: >Raymond A. Brown wrote: > >> It reminds me of a similar exchange a year or so back where "primitive >> Stone Age" language was being contrasted with the "developed modern >> languages". IIRC the exchange then was on Auxlang. The "Stone Age" >> language then was the typical comic-book type: "Ug no like Ig. Ug kill >> Ig." > >There was a popular view some years ago, Bodmer and Flesch >and Hogben and Ogden are some I have read, that primitive >language was extremely complex and grammaticalized >(lots of bound morphemes, affixes, irregularities); >and that modern advanced languages such as English >and Chinese were simple, isolating, and so on. Yep - that's so. But you know what I think of the 'primitive language' theory. Trouble was these gentleman spent too much time looking at the familiar IE languages. When we've had debates like this before - and they're certainly not new on these lists - contrary evidence has been adduced from the FinnoUgric languages of a move from simplicity to complexity. I am no FinnoUgric expert, but I have reason to doubt the arguments. It seems the "drift of languages" is whole lot more complex than these theorists would have had us believe. > >Now another line of thought says that pidgin/creole >languages tend to be isolating with simple grammar. >They are (almost by definition) easy to learn by adults. >But over-idiomatic English is far from easy ... Well, it's certainly true - but then most natlangs have their fair share of idioms. >It may not be such a great idea to mix computer >langs into this discussion, but it is so tempting. Maybe it's tempting, but I agree it's not such a great idea. Communicating with a digital machine is somewhat different, I believe, than communicating with rational human beings. >I'll just say it is interesting to consider these >ideas, without any need to decide anything. Yeah - as long as there's some substance in the idea. Ray.