Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

THEORY: on the teleology of conlanging (was: RE: terminaldialect?)

From:Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>
Date:Monday, March 29, 1999, 21:41
Tom Wier wrote:
> Well, this is actually a rather complicated question. In short, the an=
> is yes, with ifs.
I'll second this. For one thing, there are certain phonologies that would probably be bound to change, for instance having /q/ without /k/.=20 If such a lang existed (perhaps all /k/'s had evolved to /x/), I would wager that within two generations, /q/ would become /k/. But definitely a lot of if's exist. However, there does seem to be some underlying, unknown, laws. Compare how separated, but related, languages often have similar changes occur, such as consonant mutation in the Celtic langs.
> I have a feeling that the rate of language change is closely tied to ma=
ny other
> social changes occurring in any given society at any given time.
Quite true. The fastest changing languages are often aboriginal languages recently exposed to Western Civilization, which causes HUGE social changes. Irish underwent rapid changes when Ireland became Christianized. Apparently a large part of this is due to the generational gap that exists during rapid change. Consider, most teens and young adults are innovative in their language, as the phenomenon of "slang" demonstrates. As they become older, however, they abandon most of their changes, conforming their language to the speech of their elders. When there's a generation gap, however, they're less likely to conform their speech to their elders' speech, because they're more likely to dismiss it as "old-fashioned", at least on a subconscious level. Thus, they keep more of their innovations, which they pass on to their children. If there remains a gap when their children reach adolescence, they do the same, keep many of their innovations.
> So, getting the point: here too you see that you can't really foreorda=
in what
> your language will be like many centuries or millennia hence, because a=
ll sorts
> of social events will intervene which you could never have foreseen.
You could, I think, design a conlang that would be more likely to remain stable. A simple phonology would be less likely to change. Irregular inflections are quite likely to be regularized, so a regular conlang would be more stable there. A simple pattern of inflections (that is, no multiple conjugations like Latin's -are, -=EAre, -ere, -ire; where =EA= =3D e-macron) would also be stable. But there's no way to prevent ALL changes. And, of course, make the speakers a small, and socially conservative, people, and you'll slow down changes. But, I think that you're term "terminal dialect" is very appropriate, an unchanging language is DEAD (just like a "terminal disease"). --=20 "It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father was hanged." - Irish proverb ICQ: 18656696 AIM Screen-name: NikTailor