SPUG: need another list moderator

Michael R. Wolf MichaelRWolf at att.net
Sun Sep 20 16:39:22 PDT 2009

On Sep 20, 2009, at 9:46 AM, Bill Campbell wrote:

> As languages mature they tend to get less structured, and, to a
> degree, simplified.  English is pretty much the mongrel child of
> Latin, Greek, and Germanic languages.

Could you define "mature" and "structured"?

Just for the sake of discussion, I've heard that the "Culture of  
English"(tm) is to evolve in creative/practical ways that are not  
common in other languages.  Specifically, we do not have a "regulatory  
board" for English, but French does.  There are pros/cons on each side  
of this discussion.

And for more discussion's sake, I read[1] that there is no such thing  
as an "advanced" language.  We're familiar with technology being more-  
or less-advanced (bronze age, iron age, etc), but even less- 
technoligically advanced societies have languages that are every bit  
as advaned as more-advanced societies.  As an example, they mentioned  
the Maoiri, a society that had not learned to use metals when first  
discovered by Europeans, but their language had as many distinctions  
as European languages.  They may have been on different dimensions  
(e.g. tense, honorifics, caste level of speaker, listener, object;  
intention; whether it's first-hand experience, second-hand  
observation, or third-hand heresay), but (as any non-trivial language  
translation will soon uncover) for every dimension lacking in the  
comparison in one direction, another dimension was lacking in the  
opposite direction.  For example, a language that would lack the fine  
temporal disctinctions (past imperfect subjunctive pluperfect)  
distinctions, it may have much more refined social distinctions (I,  
being of less class than you, refer to someone else of unknown class).

Stated more simply: Lisp, assembly, HTML, and Perl aren't better or  
worse languages than each other, just solving different problems with  
different linguistic structures.  I'm not sure how "mature" or  
"structured" may map into these languages as they "evolved".


   1 - "Language Myths", Edited by Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill

Michael R. Wolf
     All mammals learn by playing!
         MichaelRWolf at att.net

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