195715Re: Is there an inverse relationship between lexical richness and grammatical complexity?
- Mar 19, 2013Hypothesis fails on Sanskrit and Ancient Greek that feature both lexical
richness and grammatical complexity.
As for conlangs, Toki Pona is an example of grammatically and lexically
I believe, it is harder to create a lexically rich language than a
grammatically complex one, so, most conlangs tend to be grammatically
complex. Although, it would be interesting to develop an isolating conlang
with lots of absolute sinonyms for example, I can hardly see anyone
investing that much effort in a conlang.
2013/3/20 Daniel Bowman <danny.c.bowman@...>
> Hi All,
> Alex Fink and I had a very interesting conversation today where we
> considered how lexical richness may (or may not) have an inverse
> relationship with grammatical complexity. I am interested to hear what
> others on the list think of this concept, and I'm particularly excited to
> know if anyone's considered this while designing their conlangs.
> This is how it works:
> If a language has a large lexicon, it may be able to use words to describe
> situations that other languages grammaticalize. For example, English does
> not grammaticalize formality (unlike Korean and Japanese). Therefore,
> English speakers have to use words to describe a situation that a Korean
> speaker would mark using a certain formality inflection. English is richer
> in vocabulary for formality, whereas Korean is richer in grammar. If
> Korean has less words for formal situations than English, this would lend
> support to the inverse relationship hypothesis.
> Another example showing the inverse: my conlang Angosey has evidentiality
> markers. One of these markers indicates that the speaker considers the
> source of information doubtful. In this case, I have obviated the need for
> the word "doubt" since I have a grammatical construction for it. I can
> likely do away with "dubious, unsubstantiated, unlikely" etc, or at least
> greatly reduce my usage of these terms.
> I think the absolute inverse relationship is unlikely to hold - I am sure
> there's a situation where I would need a word for "doubt" in Angosey and be
> unable to replace it with my evidentiality marker. However, such markers
> may push certain words - such as "doubt" below the "common use" threshold
> we recently discussed in the English word count thread. In other words,
> the word "doubt" will exist, but it will be used quite seldom since the
> evidentiality marker replaced most of its occurrences.
> Irrespective of whether or not the lexical richness vs grammatical
> complexity holds for natlangs, it poses an interesting puzzle for
> conlangers. Is it possible to design a very lexically rich, grammatically
> minimal conlang? Is it easier to do this than to make (and use) one that
> is both grammatically and lexically sparse?
> Conversely, is it possible, or do we have examples of, languages with a
> very minimal lexicon with a correspondingly rich grammar? Perhaps Ithkuil
> is an example of this?
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