R: Re: Degrees of volition in active languages (was Re:Chevraqis: a sketch)
|Date:||Monday, August 14, 2000, 11:17|
> > > My theory is that widespread acceptance of a language usually causesit to
> > > "degrade" or "simplify", losing a lot of old constructs in theprocess.
> > > But I've yet to come up with a plausible explanation for languages
> > > becoming *more* complex as they evolve.
> > Not really. If all languages simplified, that would beg the question:"How
> > complicated would the original ancestor language have to be?" After at
> > least 100k years of language, the ancestor would have to be virtually
> > infinitely complex to allow the kinds of complexity that we see intoday's
> > languages.
> No, I didn't say that all languages simplified! :-) As you said, that
> wouldn't make any sense at all, since ancestor languages would have to be
> unimaginably complex. However, from my limited observations,
> simplification often happens during the period where the language gains
> widespread acceptance. And I mean, *widespread*... as in koine Greek,
> English, etc.. I can see why this happens -- when a language becomes
> somewhat a lingua franca, people learning the language may not necessarily
> be interested in its intricate details -- they just want to know enough to
> communicate. Hence, there's a tendency to simplify.
> What I meant to say was, I know that sometimes languages do gain
> complexity, but I haven't quite figured out why it would.
Take a look at the essay 'Structural Variability of Indo-European
Morphology' at the Indoeuropean Database
> > Moreover, in languages with extremely long written records, likeEgyptian,
> > you can actually *see* the language cycling through predominantlyfusional,
> > then isolating and then agglutinating, where the complexity of thelanguage
> > shifts from syntax to morphology and back again.
> Any interesting theories on why this happens? Perhaps ppl might find that
> useful in developing descendant conlangs...
The URL I gave you explains it very well.