Native Americans and Australian Aborigines languages

Guest   Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:04 pm GMT
>>> Native Americans and Australian Aborigines languages are extremely complex! The stereotype of Indians speaking in monosyllables couldn't be more wrong. <<<
Why is that? How do you explain this?
furrykef   Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:34 pm GMT
Well, for one thing, these languages are often polysynthetic. A sentence could be a single very long, very heavily inflected word, and the rules for incorporating elements into these words may not be intuitive to speakers of other languages.

- Kef
Guest   Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:41 pm GMT
OK, but why is it that those, let's say, "older" languages are so complex, and, let's say, "newer" languages are, let's say "simpler".
Guest   Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:53 pm GMT
I watched a documentary on Discovery Channel about this native people somewhere at the east coast of Africa, who have extremely complex language, with a dozen different clicking sounds on top of usual sounds, and very complex grammar too.
This is obviously a pattern for "old", "local" languages.
Guest   Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:54 pm GMT
Too many "complex", right?
furrykef   Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:01 am GMT
I think it's because there are only a few major language families in the Western world. Indo-European languages had a tendency to simplify over time, but not all families have this tendency. Pretty much all of the major languages spoken in the West are Indo-European. In fact, the only non-Indo-European languages I know of in Europe are Finnish, Hungarian, and Basque.

I wouldn't be surprised if the simplicity of Chinese grammar is due in part to Chinese writing. In Chinese, separate morphemes are separate characters, which means they're more likely to remain separate words than to develop into affixes.

By contrast, there are some aspects of Korean and Japanese grammar (which are not related to Chinese, and it's debated whether or not they're related to each other) that can be considered complex, particularly the huge role that politeness plays in these languages. For the most part, politeness is not a grammatical distinction in Indo-European languages other than the common T-V distinction (e.g., tu vs. vous in French). Japanese and Korean both go way, way beyond that. You can't say anything at all in these languages without some indication of politeness or lack thereof.

- Kef
Guest   Thu Jul 19, 2007 9:05 am GMT
Again, is there a scientific explanation for this tendency that nomadic peoples use very complex languages?
furrykef   Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:09 pm GMT
Not that I know of. A rather unscientific hypothesis is that nomadic peoples have fewer things to talk about... so what happens? Well, they talk about the same sorts of things all the time, so some kind of "shorthand" starts to develop (words that were once separate begin to develop into affixes), they start drawing more distinctions (suddenly "second cousin" has its own word now), and so on. It's only a guess, but there's probably some truth to it.
Guest   Fri Jul 20, 2007 11:50 am GMT
It seems reasonable to me.
Any other ideas?
Adolfo   Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:04 pm GMT
"Many others like Lusitanian, Iberian, Etruscan and Pictish have become extinct "

Lusitanian ,as all native languages of prerroman Iberian peninsula,was an indoeuropean language and probably related to celtic languages.
Leitenant   Fri Oct 26, 2007 1:14 pm GMT
Okeechoobee, FLORIDA
Guest   Fri Oct 26, 2007 1:35 pm GMT
furrykef Thu Jul 19, 2007 10:09 pm GMT
<<Not that I know of. A rather unscientific hypothesis is that nomadic peoples have fewer things to talk about... so what happens?>>

Doesn't seem logical to me! If you roam around, you'll see many, many things, must keep track of your path, the landscape, the stars you see at night, you maybe know lots of different people, have contact with many different languages and cultures, even such that dwell in houses, visit that houses or markets, learn about the objects you can find there, you need special terminology according your tents, the animals you use, etc. You probably have a very complex mythology and most likely a different system on human values (e.g., no need for prisons, but a strong need for being cute and couragious).
furrykef   Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:09 pm GMT
I stand corrected.
ARCHER   Sun Oct 28, 2007 6:47 am GMT