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Re: Hypothetical situation (RE: logical language VS not-so-logical language (was RE: Loglan[g] VS Natlang))

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  • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
    ... Probably like a spoken version of ASL (with the bits and pieces that strictly depend on its spatial nature linearised, or more likely partly ignored), and
    Message 1 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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      On 20 January 2013 14:06, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...> wrote:

      >
      > Fair enough. Let me try something else then.
      >
      > Let's say there's only 1000 people that are alive, and we're all one of
      > them. We are all in the same village and speak only American Sign Language.
      > We have no written system. We are sedentary, but we are not technologically
      > advanced. It now has come to our attention that we are all affected by a
      > virus that will make us blind in 30 days. Therefore, we decide to create a
      > language using sound and ears instead of body and eyes, but we have only 30
      > days to create it, or at least to create the minimum (I took this number
      > because of Gary's challenge ^^). What do you think the spoken language will
      > look like in 30 days?
      >
      >
      Probably like a spoken version of ASL (with the bits and pieces that
      strictly depend on its spatial nature linearised, or more likely partly
      ignored), and you will have learned absolutely nothing. Sign languages are
      nothing *special*, besides being spoken using hands, face and body rather
      than sounds. They are handled by the same language facility in our brains
      as spoken languages are, and are subject to the same restrictions. They
      appear on the surface different, but that's only because the medium is
      different. I don't think the resulting language would be any different from
      the 6000 or so spoken languages we have already. And by that I mean that
      the variety of natlangs is already so big the resulting language would
      probably fall squarely within the range established by the natlangs we
      already know. There's a reason the acronym ANADEW is so commonly used here.

      Of course, the original version, created after 30 days, would probably be
      more pidgin-like than anything (simply due to time constraints, and those
      people probably not being all trained conlangers!), but by the second
      generation it would turn into a creole, with all that entails (one thing
      people always seem to forget is that when a pidgin becomes a creole, one
      thing that develops is *exceptions to grammatical rules*. Creoles are never
      100% regular, at least as far as I know). The language may then look
      superficially quite exotic, but I'm sure that a deep analysis wouldn't
      reveal anything vastly different from the variety we already find when
      analysing existing natlangs. Some details may be unique, but I doubt they'd
      be significant.
      --
      Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

      http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
      http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
    • Mathieu Roy
      I know and I agree with the most part. In the ANADEW acronym, I m more interested about the EW part. I think the language the people in this situation would
      Message 2 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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        I know and I agree with the most part.

        In the ANADEW acronym, I'm more interested about the "EW" part.

        I think the language the people in this situation would create at first would be more regular than almost all natlangs, but I agree that exceptions would arise as they speak it. I also think they would try to make an easy language to learn in order that everybody learn it before becoming blind.

        Mathieu

        -----Message d'origine-----
        De : Constructed Languages List [mailto:CONLANG@...] De la part de Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
        Envoyé : dimanche 20 janvier 2013 15:34
        À : CONLANG@...
        Objet : Re: Hypothetical situation (RE: logical language VS not-so-logical language (was RE: Loglan[g] VS Natlang))

        On 20 January 2013 14:06, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...> wrote:

        >
        > Fair enough. Let me try something else then.
        >
        > Let's say there's only 1000 people that are alive, and we're all one of
        > them. We are all in the same village and speak only American Sign Language.
        > We have no written system. We are sedentary, but we are not technologically
        > advanced. It now has come to our attention that we are all affected by a
        > virus that will make us blind in 30 days. Therefore, we decide to create a
        > language using sound and ears instead of body and eyes, but we have only 30
        > days to create it, or at least to create the minimum (I took this number
        > because of Gary's challenge ^^). What do you think the spoken language will
        > look like in 30 days?
        >
        >
        Probably like a spoken version of ASL (with the bits and pieces that
        strictly depend on its spatial nature linearised, or more likely partly
        ignored), and you will have learned absolutely nothing. Sign languages are
        nothing *special*, besides being spoken using hands, face and body rather
        than sounds. They are handled by the same language facility in our brains
        as spoken languages are, and are subject to the same restrictions. They
        appear on the surface different, but that's only because the medium is
        different. I don't think the resulting language would be any different from
        the 6000 or so spoken languages we have already. And by that I mean that
        the variety of natlangs is already so big the resulting language would
        probably fall squarely within the range established by the natlangs we
        already know. There's a reason the acronym ANADEW is so commonly used here.

        Of course, the original version, created after 30 days, would probably be
        more pidgin-like than anything (simply due to time constraints, and those
        people probably not being all trained conlangers!), but by the second
        generation it would turn into a creole, with all that entails (one thing
        people always seem to forget is that when a pidgin becomes a creole, one
        thing that develops is *exceptions to grammatical rules*. Creoles are never
        100% regular, at least as far as I know). The language may then look
        superficially quite exotic, but I'm sure that a deep analysis wouldn't
        reveal anything vastly different from the variety we already find when
        analysing existing natlangs. Some details may be unique, but I doubt they'd
        be significant.
        --
        Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

        http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
        http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
      • Padraic Brown
        ... I dunno. I d suggest that a thousand blind and utterly defenseless and sedentary people will probably be terrified of losing one another in the Dark.
        Message 3 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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          --- On Sun, 1/20/13, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <tsela.cg@...> wrote:

          > > Fair enough. Let me try something else then.
          > >
          > > Let's say there's only 1000 people that are alive, and
          > we're all one of
          > > them. We are all in the same village and speak only
          > American Sign Language.
          > > We have no written system. We are sedentary, but we are
          > not technologically
          > > advanced. It now has come to our attention that we are
          > all affected by a
          > > virus that will make us blind in 30 days. Therefore, we
          > decide to create a
          > > language using sound and ears instead of body and eyes,
          > but we have only 30
          > > days to create it, or at least to create the minimum (I
          > took this number
          > > because of Gary's challenge ^^). What do you think the
          > spoken language will
          > > look like in 30 days?
          > >
          > >
          > Probably like a spoken version of ASL (with the bits and
          > pieces that strictly depend on its spatial nature linearised,

          I dunno. I'd suggest that a thousand blind and utterly defenseless and
          sedentary people will probably be terrified of losing one another in the
          Dark. Perhaps we'd decide on something like the gripping language and
          decide most firmly to never let go. If anyone got separated after the
          Darkness fell, they would be utterly Lost. They couldn't see to talk, no
          one would comprehend any kind of vocalism. Such a person would be in a
          bad way.

          More conventionally, I think you're probably right. At first, probably
          something that could be transferred and learnt quickly. It's not like
          we'd have a full month to create the language! We'd have one month to
          run through all the anticipatory grieving processes, the decide on type,
          then plan the project, then devise the language and then learn and teach
          it.

          Question: are all 1000 people in on the project, or is there just a small
          cadre of conlangers in on it? Could be interesting, culturally and
          psychologically, if half a dozen conlangers, who are facing this fate,
          have to teach the rest of humanity not just a new language, but an
          entirely new mode of communication. I get from Mathieu's scenario that
          everyone has the capacity to talk, but no one uses that modality to
          communicate. Most people will probably not even be aware that they can
          talk with their mouths and see with ears!

          What will the reactions of everyone else be when these intrepid conlangers
          start making communicative noises with their mouths? People won't know what
          to do with the sounds they're hearing!


          Otherwise concur.

          Padraic

          > or more likely partly
          > ignored), and you will have learned absolutely nothing. Sign
          > languages are
          > nothing *special*, besides being spoken using hands, face
          > and body rather
          > than sounds. They are handled by the same language facility
          > in our brains
          > as spoken languages are, and are subject to the same
          > restrictions. They
          > appear on the surface different, but that's only because the
          > medium is
          > different. I don't think the resulting language would be any
          > different from
          > the 6000 or so spoken languages we have already. And by that
          > I mean that
          > the variety of natlangs is already so big the resulting
          > language would
          > probably fall squarely within the range established by the
          > natlangs we
          > already know. There's a reason the acronym ANADEW is so
          > commonly used here.
          >
          > Of course, the original version, created after 30 days,
          > would probably be
          > more pidgin-like than anything (simply due to time
          > constraints, and those
          > people probably not being all trained conlangers!), but by
          > the second
          > generation it would turn into a creole, with all that
          > entails (one thing
          > people always seem to forget is that when a pidgin becomes a
          > creole, one
          > thing that develops is *exceptions to grammatical rules*.
          > Creoles are never
          > 100% regular, at least as far as I know). The language may
          > then look
          > superficially quite exotic, but I'm sure that a deep
          > analysis wouldn't
          > reveal anything vastly different from the variety we already
          > find when
          > analysing existing natlangs. Some details may be unique, but
          > I doubt they'd
          > be significant.
          > --
          > Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.
          >
          > http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
          > http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
          >
        • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
          ... The thing is: what does easy to learn mean? My experience with learning languages (I m fluent in three, conversational in another three) and with talking
          Message 4 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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            On 20 January 2013 16:08, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...> wrote:

            > I know and I agree with the most part.
            >
            > In the ANADEW acronym, I'm more interested about the "EW" part.
            >
            > I think the language the people in this situation would create at first
            > would be more regular than almost all natlangs, but I agree that exceptions
            > would arise as they speak it. I also think they would try to make an easy
            > language to learn in order that everybody learn it before becoming blind.
            >
            >
            The thing is: what does "easy to learn" mean? My experience with learning
            languages (I'm fluent in three, conversational in another three) and with
            talking to other people learning languages, is that "easy to learn" for
            languages boils down to one thing, and one thing only: *familiarity*. The
            closest the language is to a language you already know (it needed be your
            native language, by the way), the easier it is to learn, especially in
            terms of getting the sounds right, but the same is true for grammar and
            lexicon. And *that* *is* *all*. In my experience, it's easier to learn a
            language riddled with irregularities, if its structure is close to what you
            already know (especially if the irregularities are also similar), than it
            is to learn a 100% regular language with an alien grammar.

            Of course, other conditions like full immersion will make learning even
            easier, but familiarity gives a tremendous boost in the learning process
            (it basically bootstraps it). And that's it. I don't believe that there is
            a universal scale of easiness in language learning.

            So what would be easy to learn for ASL speakers? Something that looks like
            ASL.
            --
            Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

            http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
            http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
          • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
            ... Of course. There are plenty of things that are just not realistic in this thought experiment. I still went along with it because, unlike the previous
            Message 5 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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              On 20 January 2013 16:16, Padraic Brown <elemtilas@...> wrote:

              > > >
              > > Probably like a spoken version of ASL (with the bits and
              > > pieces that strictly depend on its spatial nature linearised,
              >
              > I dunno. I'd suggest that a thousand blind and utterly defenseless and
              > sedentary people will probably be terrified of losing one another in the
              > Dark. Perhaps we'd decide on something like the gripping language and
              > decide most firmly to never let go. If anyone got separated after the
              > Darkness fell, they would be utterly Lost. They couldn't see to talk, no
              > one would comprehend any kind of vocalism. Such a person would be in a
              > bad way.
              >

              Of course. There are plenty of things that are just not realistic in this
              thought experiment. I still went along with it because, unlike the previous
              question, this one was at least not totally unrealistic down to its core.

              And there is still merit to thought experiments that are not totally
              realistic. I use one in my LGBT awareness workshops at work, and it's
              always very effective. As long as you're willing to go along on the ride,
              the learnings are worth it.
              --
              Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

              http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
              http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
            • Herman Miller
              ... I agree that familiarity is a major factor in languages being easy to learn, but I do think there are other factors. I think if you pick a selection of
              Message 6 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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                On 1/20/2013 10:23 AM, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:

                > The thing is: what does "easy to learn" mean? My experience with learning
                > languages (I'm fluent in three, conversational in another three) and with
                > talking to other people learning languages, is that "easy to learn" for
                > languages boils down to one thing, and one thing only: *familiarity*. The
                > closest the language is to a language you already know (it needed be your
                > native language, by the way), the easier it is to learn, especially in
                > terms of getting the sounds right, but the same is true for grammar and
                > lexicon. And *that* *is* *all*. In my experience, it's easier to learn a
                > language riddled with irregularities, if its structure is close to what you
                > already know (especially if the irregularities are also similar), than it
                > is to learn a 100% regular language with an alien grammar.

                I agree that familiarity is a major factor in languages being easy to
                learn, but I do think there are other factors. I think if you pick a
                selection of non-IE languages, say Burmese, Hawaiian, Navajo, Quechua,
                Swahili, Telugu, and Yidiny, and try learning them, I think you'd find a
                lot of similarity in how learners rank the difficulty of learning them.
                Specifically I'd predict that Navajo would be near the "hard to learn"
                end of the scale for most people, on account of the complex verb
                morphology. (The tones, nasalized vowels, and unusual consonants would
                also make things difficult, but that's more a matter of familiarity.)
                Hawaiian would probably be closer to the easier end of the scale.

                Ultimately it's possible that all languages are about equally hard to
                learn at the highest level, but not all learning curves are equally
                steep. Some languages start out hard and probably don't get much harder
                over time, while others are easier to learn at a basic level but get
                harder as you learn more of the idiomatic details.
              • MorphemeAddict
                ... When I was in high school (early 70s), this was how French and Spanish were characterized, with French having a steep learning curve that leveled off
                Message 7 of 17 , Jan 20, 2013
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                  On Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 5:43 PM, Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:

                  > On 1/20/2013 10:23 AM, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
                  >
                  > The thing is: what does "easy to learn" mean? My experience with learning
                  >> languages (I'm fluent in three, conversational in another three) and with
                  >> talking to other people learning languages, is that "easy to learn" for
                  >> languages boils down to one thing, and one thing only: *familiarity*. The
                  >> closest the language is to a language you already know (it needed be your
                  >> native language, by the way), the easier it is to learn, especially in
                  >> terms of getting the sounds right, but the same is true for grammar and
                  >> lexicon. And *that* *is* *all*. In my experience, it's easier to learn a
                  >> language riddled with irregularities, if its structure is close to what
                  >> you
                  >> already know (especially if the irregularities are also similar), than it
                  >> is to learn a 100% regular language with an alien grammar.
                  >>
                  >
                  > I agree that familiarity is a major factor in languages being easy to
                  > learn, but I do think there are other factors. I think if you pick a
                  > selection of non-IE languages, say Burmese, Hawaiian, Navajo, Quechua,
                  > Swahili, Telugu, and Yidiny, and try learning them, I think you'd find a
                  > lot of similarity in how learners rank the difficulty of learning them.
                  > Specifically I'd predict that Navajo would be near the "hard to learn" end
                  > of the scale for most people, on account of the complex verb morphology.
                  > (The tones, nasalized vowels, and unusual consonants would also make things
                  > difficult, but that's more a matter of familiarity.) Hawaiian would
                  > probably be closer to the easier end of the scale.
                  >
                  > Ultimately it's possible that all languages are about equally hard to
                  > learn at the highest level, but not all learning curves are equally steep.
                  > Some languages start out hard and probably don't get much harder over time,
                  > while others are easier to learn at a basic level but get harder as you
                  > learn more of the idiomatic details.
                  >

                  When I was in high school (early 70s), this was how French and Spanish were
                  characterized, with French having a steep learning curve that leveled off
                  relatively quickly and Spanish having a gentle learning curve that didn't
                  level off until much later. The cause of this difference was claimed to be
                  the high number of idioms in Spanish.

                  stevo
                • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
                  ... I agree, if all those learners are IE-language speakers. I m willing to bet the similarity would be thrown of if you included non-IE-language speakers as
                  Message 8 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                    On 20 January 2013 23:43, Herman Miller <hmiller@...> wrote:

                    >
                    > I agree that familiarity is a major factor in languages being easy to
                    > learn, but I do think there are other factors. I think if you pick a
                    > selection of non-IE languages, say Burmese, Hawaiian, Navajo, Quechua,
                    > Swahili, Telugu, and Yidiny, and try learning them, I think you'd find a
                    > lot of similarity in how learners rank the difficulty of learning them.


                    I agree, if all those learners are IE-language speakers. I'm willing to bet
                    the similarity would be thrown of if you included non-IE-language speakers
                    as learners.


                    > Specifically I'd predict that Navajo would be near the "hard to learn" end
                    > of the scale for most people, on account of the complex verb morphology.
                    > (The tones, nasalized vowels, and unusual consonants would also make things
                    > difficult, but that's more a matter of familiarity.) Hawaiian would
                    > probably be closer to the easier end of the scale.
                    >
                    >
                    I'm willing to bet Athabaskan-language speakers would *not* find Navajo
                    that hard to learn, while they might be thrown off by Hawaiian. Familiarity
                    really trumps all.
                    --
                    Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

                    http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
                    http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
                  • Alex Fink
                    ... I think linearisation won t be the biggest part of the change, or at least isn t the most apt description. Even though a signer has more simultaneous
                    Message 9 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                      On Sun, 20 Jan 2013 15:34:27 +0100, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <tsela.cg@...> wrote:

                      >On 20 January 2013 14:06, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...> wrote:
                      >
                      >> Let's say there's only 1000 people that are alive, and we're all one of
                      >> them. We are all in the same village and speak only American Sign Language.
                      >> [...] What do you think the spoken language will
                      >> look like in 30 days?
                      >>
                      >Probably like a spoken version of ASL (with the bits and pieces that
                      >strictly depend on its spatial nature linearised, or more likely partly
                      >ignored), [...]
                      >Sign languages are
                      >nothing *special*, besides being spoken using hands, face and body rather
                      >than sounds. They are handled by the same language facility in our brains
                      >as spoken languages are, and are subject to the same restrictions. They
                      >appear on the surface different, but that's only because the medium is
                      >different.

                      I think linearisation won't be the biggest part of the change, or at least isn't the most apt description. Even though a signer has more simultaneous articulators available than a speaker, the receiver still has the same limits on attention and comprehension.

                      I think the greatest part of the change would follow on from being deprived of the vast resources of iconicity and specialised human cognitive tools that are associated with _space_. A direct morpheme-for-morpheme conversion, as it were, of the sort of scene depiction ASL can use for say "the car swerved to avoid the deer and crashed into the tree" probably couldn't bear the load of all the opaque "morphemes" that would convey the speed and degree of skiddingness and whatnot which are entirely transparent in sign.
                      As I was arguing on the last thread about this, I think spatiality is also essential to the "lots of pronouns of potentially arbitrary referent" system that ASL have, which functions on a spatial metaphor (we are imagining that Linda _is actually_ over there, to my left and behind a bit). That probably also wouldn't survive the transition to speech -- I don't think it's an accident that spoken natlangs don't do "the pronoun /fti/ is used for things which are to the speaker's left and behind a bit".

                      Alex
                    • Mathieu Roy
                      Padraic: I don t know. What do you think most
                      Message 10 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                        Padraic: <<Question: are all 1000 people in on the project, or is there just
                        a small cadre of conlangers in on it?>>
                        I don't know. What do you think most humans would prefer? What do you think
                        would work best?

                        Padraic: <<I get from Mathieu's scenario that everyone has the capacity to
                        talk, but no one uses that modality to communicate. Most people will
                        probably not even be aware that they can talk with their mouths and see with
                        ears!>>
                        Exactly. It's like a children (or anyone) that have never "heard" of a
                        signing language and sees one for the first time.

                        Christophe: << easy to learn" for languages boils down to one thing, and one
                        thing only: *familiarity*>>
                        I have read "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard"
                        (http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html) and I agree with this essay.
                        My hypothesis is that it would be easier for Chineses to learn a language
                        with an alphabet than another one with different symbols for each concept.
                        Is their Chineses on the list that can approve or disapprove this? Anyway, I
                        agree that familiarity has a lot to do with the easiness of learning, but I
                        don't think it's the absolute only thing. Moreover, in creating a spoken
                        language from a signing language, the phonology will have to be created
                        based on no previous languages, so the concept of familiarity does apply for
                        that, but I don't think that means that all possible phonology these people
                        can chose will be equally learnable.

                        Christophe: << There are plenty of things that are just not realistic in
                        this thought experiment.>>
                        I think my situation is extremely improbable, but not physically impossible.

                        Christophe: <<And there is still merit to thought experiments>>
                        I agree.

                        -Mathieu
                      • George Corley
                        ... It would probably be easier to learn *to read* Chinese if it used an alphabetic script, but that doesn t affect how easy or hard it is to learn to speak.
                        Message 11 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                          On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 5:29 AM, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...>wrote:

                          > Christophe: << easy to learn" for languages boils down to one thing, and
                          > one
                          > thing only: *familiarity*>>
                          > I have read "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard"
                          > (http://pinyin.info/readings/texts/moser.html) and I agree with this
                          > essay.
                          > My hypothesis is that it would be easier for Chineses to learn a language
                          > with an alphabet than another one with different symbols for each concept.
                          > Is their Chineses on the list that can approve or disapprove this? Anyway,
                          > I
                          > agree that familiarity has a lot to do with the easiness of learning, but I
                          > don't think it's the absolute only thing. Moreover, in creating a spoken
                          > language from a signing language, the phonology will have to be created
                          > based on no previous languages, so the concept of familiarity does apply
                          > for
                          > that, but I don't think that means that all possible phonology these people
                          > can chose will be equally learnable.
                          >

                          It would probably be easier to learn *to read* Chinese if it used an
                          alphabetic script, but that doesn't affect how easy or hard it is to learn
                          to speak. Reading and writing are different skill from speaking and
                          listening.

                          I do see your point, however, on how switching modalities would cause some
                          problems in learning a new language. Would these hypothetical ASL-only
                          humans have difficulty with a spoken language? I don't know. To some
                          extent, I think it may be a moot point -- hearing humans who only speak a
                          sign language is highly unlikely. In fact, considering that I have only
                          heard of sign languages arising where there are significant numbers of Deaf
                          individuals, it may well be that humans default to using spoken languages
                          when possible, probably because of the inherent advantages of auditory
                          communication (you don't have to be facing the speaker, for example -- and
                          it can be understood over longer distances).
                        • Padraic Brown
                          ... Well, I ask simply because the vast majority of the human population is not composed of conlangers. If the scenario takes a thousand random people, you
                          Message 12 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                            --- On Mon, 1/21/13, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...> wrote:

                            > > Question: are all 1000 people in on the project, or is there just a
                            > > small cadre of conlangers in on it?
                            >
                            > I don't know. What do you think most humans would prefer? What do you
                            > think would work best?

                            Well, I ask simply because the vast majority of the human population is
                            not composed of conlangers. If the scenario takes a thousand random
                            people, you might end up with somewhere between 0 and 2 conlangers, and
                            it is possible that somewhere between 0 and 2 of them will be closet
                            conlangers (I think there are probably more conlangers in the world than
                            subscribe to Conlang or ZBB or the other big groups.)

                            If all 1000 of the people are conlangers, I could easily see the project
                            degenerating into kitchen sinkery (where, by nature, we try to put too
                            much stuff into the language); or else we take 25 days to sort out the
                            phonology and then realise that we've got no time left to actually devise
                            the language before we all go blind!

                            I don't think there is a "best". I think that, for purposes of the
                            experiment, you just pick one or the other and work from there.

                            > > I get from Mathieu's scenario that everyone has the capacity to talk,
                            > > but no one uses that modality to communicate. Most people will
                            > > probably not even be aware that they can talk with their mouths and
                            > > see with ears!
                            >
                            > Exactly. It's like a children (or anyone) that have never "heard" of a
                            > signing language and sees one for the first time.

                            Right. While I'm sure it's unlikely and even improbable, it's still an
                            interesting idea.

                            > > There are plenty of things that are just not realistic in this thought
                            > > experiment.
                            >
                            > I think my situation is extremely improbable, but not physically
                            > impossible.

                            Right. It's not like crazy situations of this sort haven't been done in SF
                            before. I think the point isn't so much to run a realistic model as to
                            come up with a novel way of telling the old "how do people in common
                            straits come together for survival and mutual aid" story.

                            Plus you get to tinker with language and related issues!

                            Padraic
                          • Mathieu Roy
                            Georges:
                            Message 13 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                              Georges: <<It would probably be easier to learn *to read* Chinese if it used
                              an alphabetic script, but that doesn't affect how easy or hard it is to
                              learn to speak. Reading and writing are different skill from speaking and
                              listening.>>
                              But it is easier to learn how to pronounce words when you read phonological
                              text, so your speaking is also improving faster by reading a phonological
                              alphabet. But I understand what you're saying.

                              Georges: <<I do see your point, however, on how switching modalities would
                              cause some problems in learning a new language. Would these hypothetical
                              ASL-only humans have difficulty with a spoken language? I don't know. To
                              some extent, I think it may be a moot point -- hearing humans who only speak
                              a sign language is highly unlikely. In fact, considering that I have only
                              heard of sign languages arising where there are significant numbers of Deaf
                              individuals, it may well be that humans default to using spoken languages
                              when possible, probably because of the inherent advantages of auditory
                              communication (you don't have to be facing the speaker, for example -- and
                              it can be understood over longer distances).>>
                              Can't sign language communicate over longer distance than spoken language?
                              Well, maybe not in a dense forest. Anyway, I also wonder why we end up
                              speaking with the mouth and not with the arms; maybe it's because we needed
                              to use our arms more often than our mouth for non-language relating things.
                              But that makes me think... (see point below)

                              Another hypothetical situation could be the opposite. 1000 people that have
                              a spoken language and that get a virus that will make all of them deaf in 30
                              days, so they decide to create a sign language. How would that end up? We
                              could actually do this experiment in real life with let's say 50 people
                              (which might have results different than with 1000 people) and then after 30
                              days we cover there ears so they cannot hear and let them start
                              communicating only with signs (and consciously or unconsciously trying to
                              improve the language) for another 30 days. However, we would need very
                              committed people, and these would probably be people more interested in
                              languages than the average person, so the results might be a little bit bias
                              there, but that would still be interesting IMO. In fact, we could do that on
                              an ever smaller scale for entertaining purpose: let's say 5 people (that
                              don't know any signs language) meeting for 10 days (5 days to create a
                              language and 5 days speaking it). Who wants to do that with me? :)

                              -Mathieu
                            • Mathieu Roy
                              (in continuation to my previous email) Or the situation could be a planet with only a spoken language and no writing system. Then for some reason, one day
                              Message 14 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                                (in continuation to my previous email)

                                Or the situation could be a planet with only a spoken language and no
                                writing system. Then for some reason, one day everyone becomes deaf (without
                                warning; so they were not prepare). At first they would have to mime more
                                and make 'transparent' signs. Maybe they would start by meeting and pointing
                                or mimicking things and give them a word to start building a basic common
                                vocabulary. How long do you think it would take before they get to something
                                similar to our natural sign languages?

                                -Mathieu

                                -----Message d'origine-----
                                De : Mathieu Roy [mailto:mathieu.roy.37@...]
                                Envoyé : lundi 21 janvier 2013 18:43
                                À : 'Constructed Languages List'
                                Objet : RE: Hypothetical situation (RE: logical language VS not-so-logical
                                language (was RE: Loglan[g] VS Natlang))


                                Georges: <<It would probably be easier to learn *to read* Chinese if it
                                used an alphabetic script, but that doesn't affect how easy or hard it is
                                to learn to speak. Reading and writing are different skill from speaking
                                and listening.>>
                                But it is easier to learn how to pronounce words when you read
                                phonological text, so your speaking is also improving faster by reading a
                                phonological alphabet. But I understand what you're saying.

                                Georges: <<I do see your point, however, on how switching modalities would
                                cause some problems in learning a new language. Would these hypothetical
                                ASL-only humans have difficulty with a spoken language? I don't know. To
                                some extent, I think it may be a moot point -- hearing humans who only
                                speak a sign language is highly unlikely. In fact, considering that I
                                have only heard of sign languages arising where there are significant
                                numbers of Deaf individuals, it may well be that humans default to using
                                spoken languages when possible, probably because of the inherent
                                advantages of auditory communication (you don't have to be facing the
                                speaker, for example -- and it can be understood over longer distances).>>
                                Can't sign language communicate over longer distance than spoken language?
                                Well, maybe not in a dense forest. Anyway, I also wonder why we end up
                                speaking with the mouth and not with the arms; maybe it's because we
                                needed to use our arms more often than our mouth for non-language relating
                                things. But that makes me think... (see point below)

                                Another hypothetical situation could be the opposite. 1000 people that
                                have a spoken language and that get a virus that will make all of them
                                deaf in 30 days, so they decide to create a sign language. How would that
                                end up? We could actually do this experiment in real life with let's say
                                50 people (which might have results different than with 1000 people) and
                                then after 30 days we cover there ears so they cannot hear and let them
                                start communicating only with signs (and consciously or unconsciously
                                trying to improve the language) for another 30 days. However, we would
                                need very committed people, and these would probably be people more
                                interested in languages than the average person, so the results might be a
                                little bit bias there, but that would still be interesting IMO. In fact,
                                we could do that on an ever smaller scale for entertaining purpose: let's
                                say 5 people (that don't know any signs language) meeting for 10 days (5
                                days to create a language and 5 days speaking it). Who wants to do that
                                with me? :)

                                -Mathieu
                              • Adam Walker
                                ... I think it would take them 1-2 generations (what ever time period that represents for their biology). The First Generation stricken by the disease would
                                Message 15 of 17 , Jan 21, 2013
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                                  On Mon, Jan 21, 2013 at 12:13 PM, Mathieu Roy <mathieu.roy.37@...>wrote:

                                  > (in continuation to my previous email)
                                  >
                                  > Or the situation could be a planet with only a spoken language and no
                                  > writing system. Then for some reason, one day everyone becomes deaf
                                  > (without
                                  > warning; so they were not prepare). At first they would have to mime more
                                  > and make 'transparent' signs. Maybe they would start by meeting and
                                  > pointing
                                  > or mimicking things and give them a word to start building a basic common
                                  > vocabulary. How long do you think it would take before they get to
                                  > something
                                  > similar to our natural sign languages?
                                  >
                                  > -Mathieu
                                  >
                                  >
                                  I think it would take them 1-2 generations (what ever time period that
                                  represents for their biology). The First Generation stricken by the
                                  disease would never achieve something like natural signed languages. The
                                  Second Generation would have something very like a creole of the First's
                                  pidgin-like language. The Third Generation would likely have a
                                  fully-fledged language on par with any language they had used prior to the
                                  disease.

                                  Adam
                                • Nuno-Miguel Raposo
                                  ... I m mostly a lurker and rarely comment, so pardon the extremely late entry to this discussion. I m surprised no one has mentioned the tactile versions of
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Apr 4, 2013
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                                    >
                                    > Let's say there's only 1000 people that are alive, and we're all one of
                                    > them. We are all in the same village and speak only American Sign Language.
                                    > We have no written system. We are sedentary, but we are not technologically
                                    > advanced. It now has come to our attention that we are all affected by a
                                    > virus that will make us blind in 30 days. Therefore, we decide to create a
                                    > language using sound and ears instead of body and eyes, but we have only 30
                                    > days to create it, or at least to create the minimum (I took this number
                                    > because of Gary's challenge ^^). What do you think the spoken language will
                                    > look like in 30 days?


                                    I'm mostly a lurker and rarely comment, so pardon the extremely late entry
                                    to this discussion.

                                    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the tactile versions of ASL that already
                                    do exists. There is a population of Deaf ASL speakers who, for a variety of
                                    reasons (see Usher's Syndrome), eventually lose their vision.

                                    (Good tactile ASL example video:
                                    http://youtu.be/yzDSYOyr8k4
                                    Even if you don't understand ASL, it may be interesting to note how turn
                                    taking, and back channeling are done.)

                                    This isn't exactly your though experiment, but as many others have pointed
                                    out, there may not be a logical reason for them to even consider sound and
                                    ears as an option. However if you are just wondering what a spoken ASL
                                    would sound like, it would probably end up sounding like many of the
                                    intrusions ASL interpreters make in their English when speaking to other
                                    interpreters. However ASL interpreters are only able to make these
                                    intrusions because we often have English "gloss" for the ASL signs we are
                                    speaking.

                                    For example the sentences:

                                    "Hey, tomorrow you do-do?"
                                    "Did you call her cha-head? Fishhh don't!"

                                    Which are some, maybe not natural, ASL intrusions into English. These only
                                    work because we have the English gloss to begin with.

                                    Not sure if this adds anything to the conversation, but just some info to
                                    play with :-)

                                    Nuno
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