Wednesday, July 28, 2010

on linguistic competition

CoffeeTeaLinguistics posts an interesting thought experimentNo language requires another language to survive, or any other languages for that matter.

My response involved an extension of the isolate thought experiment culminating in my wondering what the implications are if the following two claims are true simultaneously:

1. No language requires another language to survive.
2. No language can remain stable for more than one generation.

Read more at CoffeeTeaLinguistics.


CoffeeTeaLinguistics said...

I'm not sure if the two ideas lead to any implications. We know 1 is true. And depending on the time-span of course, 2 is true for spans over a few hours I would say (i.e., it takes time for weird words and phrases to disseminate).

So if we start with a single isolated language, it will change, and some part of the population might come to speak a variant so different that the populations cannot communicate without multilingualism [or universal translators of course...].

I think we need a few more assumptions before we can model it, maybe including isolation of language a from language b. One could try a cellular automaton. Maybe this has already been done, I would be surprised if it hasn't

Chris said...

I guess I'm less convinced that 1 is true because it seems like an impossible state given #2.