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=swer
> 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=
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").
"It's bad manners to talk about ropes in the house of a man whose father
was hanged." - Irish proverb
AIM Screen-name: NikTailor