Friday, October 05, 2007

Complexity in Language

".. despite what might have been expected, the languages of primitive peoples are found to be just as complex as the languages of more advanced societies. Only the vocabularies of the languages of primitive peoples tend to be smaller, partly of course because they do not have access to the vast range of man-made objects and concepts that surround us." (from "The Words We Use" by Robert Lord)

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Blogger Nick Steffen said...

The little I know of ancient languages would suggest that "primitive" languages are commonly more complex than "advanced" [nations'] languages in grammar (though, as the author mentioned, less complex in vocab). Think of grammatical specificity of Latin and Greek compared to their offshoots. New languages are always simpler, and tend to try to make up for it by depending on context and ambiguous connectors to form statements, so old complexities die off (though this context-based approach would make it more difficult to learn the language, I'd imagine). I'm really not sure what all this means (except, maybe, that we should use Latin for arguments, where miscommunication is rife), but that's all I got.

12:20 PM  

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