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My Three Assertions

From:Trent Pehrson <pehr099@...>
Date:Thursday, February 24, 2005, 14:53
Kind and gentle list members,

Recently and in the past, some have asserted an inherent distinction
between natural languages and constructed languages.  Additionally, there
have been threads wherein some have proposed that the two are entirely
different phenomena and even that only natural languages are of value to
linguistics as an academic discipline.

I would like to make my own assertions and see if any in this list have
similar ideas and opinions.

Assertion 1: There is no non-arbitrary way of designating some languages
as natural and some languages as constructed i.e. there are no universally
unique characteristics across all languages designated as conlangs which
separate them from all languages designated as natlangs.

Assertion 2:  Designating any speech as a language ‘a’, whether relative
to an individual speaker ‘x’ or to a population ‘x...n’, is always an
arbitrary designation both synchronically and diachronically because
speech varies across synchronic individual sets and speech changes for
individuals and individual sets over time ( e.g. Declaring that the speech
of individuals ‘x...n’ is of language ‘a’ at a point in or period of time
is based on an arbitrary decision that the speech differences between
individuals in set ‘x...n’ are insignificant. Also, declaring that
individual ‘x’ speaks language ‘a’ for any period of time ‘t’ is based on
an arbitrary decision that the differences between ‘a/t1’ and ‘a/t2’ for
individual ‘x’ are insignificant.).

Assertion 3: All human language is human language.  Hence, if the study of
an arbitrarily designated ‘natural language’ can yield information about
human lingual phenomena, so can the study of an arbitrarily
designated ‘constructed language’.  The contrived compartmentalization of
the two is irrelevant to their existence as human lingual behavior.


T. Pehrson


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