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How primitive is the language?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 21, 2011 at 4:04 PM

the khoisan have a click language. They make sounds with their tongue and also the level of sound change the meaning of a word.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c246fZ-7z1w

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 22, 2011
at 01:55 AM

Good point. Exotic is relative.

06d21b99c58283ce575e36c4ecd4a458

(9948)

on May 21, 2011
at 08:06 PM

Evidently Louise Leakey was not including Ardipithecus Ramidus when she says we are direct from gorillas, chips, benovas with 99% DNA. This vid branches Ardi off on the same branch as humans after gorillas and chimps went in a different direction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX79SH1QmOY

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on May 21, 2011
at 06:55 PM

http://www.ted.com/talks/louise_leakey_digs_for_humanity_s_origins.html

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25477)

on May 21, 2011
at 06:39 PM

They believe language came about 2.5 million years ago and was a major inflection point that allows humans to replace Neanderthals because they became superior at extracting resources from the environment using social networking. This is seen in there use of certain stone age tools that are absent in Neanderthal dig sites

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 21, 2011
at 05:55 PM

@ambimorph: Seems your right. 'Primitiveness', it seems to me, has to do with complexity of expression, rather than exoticness of soundmaking. So spoken Swahili (smallish vocab since trade language) might be more 'primitive' than khoisan, though I have no idea how large khoisan vocab is.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 21, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I believe the question was meant about a specific language.

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3 Answers

3
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 21, 2011
at 05:25 PM

By definition, no one language is more primitive or less expressive than any other. If it is less expressive, it isn't a language.

To be a language it must have an arbitrary relation between symbols and meaning, and a grammar which confers the ability to express an unlimited number of statements.

The communication in question is language. While of course it has its own special features, none of them are beyond or below the realm of normal linguistic variation. It just has an unusual set of sounds that it draws from.

1
F3176aa8463fe7f416f4da0d04974c1d

(1392)

on May 21, 2011
at 04:53 PM

There's a theory that the cavemen started out signing, then evolution helped modern humans with spoken language. Pretty sweet-- so either way, language is totally Paleo. Here's a pretty cool article that kind of talks about it (towards the end): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703529004576160363317261804.html

1
13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

on May 21, 2011
at 04:06 PM

Depends on what you call a language. Dog-bark voiceprints vary by meaning (play with me, let's fight, etc). So with that wide interpretation, I'd say language is pretty darn Paleo :)

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 22, 2011
at 01:55 AM

Good point. Exotic is relative.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18696)

on May 21, 2011
at 05:13 PM

I believe the question was meant about a specific language.

13db020c06c22c2f8b129034ddc013e4

(340)

on May 21, 2011
at 05:55 PM

@ambimorph: Seems your right. 'Primitiveness', it seems to me, has to do with complexity of expression, rather than exoticness of soundmaking. So spoken Swahili (smallish vocab since trade language) might be more 'primitive' than khoisan, though I have no idea how large khoisan vocab is.

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