Monday, 16 March 2009

Points of Interest 16. March, 2009

1. Joint attention and the difference between we and I might be the key in order to understand language evolution.
My opinion is, that language evolved to set borders. The border of I; my person, my belongings, my needs and thoughts, my standing within society - in opposition to others.
The border of we; our tribe, our race, our territory, our hunting grounds, our ideals - in opposition to others.
Language is a cultural and psychological necessity to govern, identify, interact and define oneself if things are getting more complex. A biological necessity to define entities in time and space and to interact with them in a complex way on different planes. A way to optimize doing things, like hunting strategies, complex hierarchies, standings to other tribes: A Tale Without Episodes

2. A very strange article. As a computerlinguist I'm very interested in how they compute the evolution of a language. I can't imagine how this could work. There are several factors which seem to be just too random to be calculated. How did they trace the words? Did they use OCR to scan documents and match words? There is this particular paragraph, which I don't understand at all:

"Looking to the future, the less frequently certain words are used, the more likely they are to be replaced. Other simple rules have been uncovered - numerals evolve the slowest, then nouns, then verbs, then adjectives. Conjunctions and prepositions such as 'and', 'or', 'but' , 'on', 'over' and 'against' evolve the fastest, some as much as 100 times faster than numerals."

What does evolve mean here? Change? How can prepositions change? These things are bound by perception and are, in my opinion, as static as numerals: Scientists discover oldest words in the English language and predict which ones are likely to disappear in the future

3. I'm quite into morbid things; like mummies and anatomical stuff. Lately, Pink Tentacle wrote a post about monster mummies and living mummies - formerly known as living Buddhist monks. They've killed themselves (slowly) in a timespan of 3000 days and now are relics of a sort: Monster mummies of Japan

4. Does your language influence your preference in music? Language and music are associated: Why music sounds right - the hidden tones in our own speech

5. A very basic lecture about language held at Yale University. It covers fundamentals of linguistics - Pidgin & Creoles, language as human trait, language universals, (innate) language capacity, phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics (in this order) and so on: How Do We Communicate?: Language in the Brain, Mouth and the Hands