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Re: My Three Assertions

From:Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Date:Friday, February 25, 2005, 5:29
On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 21:40:34 -0500, Damian Yerrick <tepples@...> wrote:
> Quoting Mike Ellis <nihilsum@...>: > > > "constructed" ... "having been constructed" = "having been deliberately put > > together / shaped / engineered with the goal of making a language"; whether > > it's from scratch or from existing language(s) doesn't matter here. > > No, there aren't characteristics inherent to conlangs AFTER their > > construction that seperate them from natlangs. > > So in other words, sometimes the difference between natlangs and some > conlangs can be expressed only diachronically.
But of course!
> > However, having been deliberately constructed (usually by one person) > > is itself a very different way for a language to come about than > > having developed over generations of speech without deliberate > > creation. THAT is the unique characteristic. > > The line you seek isn't as bright as a fellow might hope: Look at > prescriptivist reforms by authors of popular reference grammars.
Or various "standard languages" -- some of them are codifications of some prestige dialect, but some of them are constructions that were not, in that form, anyone's native language. (I've been told this about Italian and German, for example -- Italian being "lingua toscana in bucca romana" or something like that, and the German of Luther's Bible translation being a combination of southern phonology with northern vocabulary, or something like that.) So in that sense, such languages were deliberately constructed, though they were closely based on a number of existing dialects -- but they didn't evolve naturally from any one. Or what about Modern Hebrew? Conlang? Or Natlang? It wasn't anyone's L1 for many centuries. What about the various forms of revived Cornish? In both cases, there was a natlang tradition where the language evolved through its speakers, but then it was frozen when it ceased being a native language and then thawed out... but perhaps not quite in the form it ended up in?
> I'd suggest a different criterion: a human language is one that a > human being can learn to understand and speak in real time.
I like this. Cheers, -- Philip Newton <philip.newton@...> Watch the Reply-To!