Sinister Petrus wrote:In a real sense, all languages are equal.
Sinister Petrus wrote:Think about it: does learning Latin fundamentally change how you experience the world? Do you see new colors? Do you hear new sounds? Sure, you may divide up what you see and hear in different ways, but the actual sensory perception is the same. Only the words hung on it are different.
When languages need to do something, they invent it. Vocabulary is the best example. Latin had few terms relating to technical fields like philosophy or linguistics until Cicero started creating them on the analogy of Greek. Aboriginal languages are no different.Some (aboriginal) languages, for example, hardly have any words for larger quantities. Is such a language really as "rich" as a modern language when dealing with an environment and reality in which "quantities" are very important? In their own environment these aboriginal languages certainly do the job well enough, but outside of that they simply don't work. At that point vocabulary and sometimes entire grammatical structures have to be imported into these languages (or what probably happens more often, these languages start to wither). So, in a very real sense, these languages are poorer than the modern ones (and please don't come up with complaints about xenophoby). They put constraints on what people can express (and even what they can think). And that certainly is prove enough for languages not being equal.
Carolus Raeticus wrote:I definitely do not agree with you. I believe in Ludwig Wittgenstein's famous quote "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.". And languages do indeed differ in their limits, both as far as vocabulary and grammar are concerned.
Carolus Raeticus wrote:…sometimes entire grammatical structures have to be imported into these languages…
Carolus Raeticus wrote:I disagree. What about the example of the Inuit and their large vocabulary for snow and ice?
But the purpose of language is communication in its widest sense <1>. Beauty and spirit - those are concepts I know nothing of in any sort of linguistic discourse, but they would appear to be aesthetic in nature. "de gustibus non disputandum" is my personal answer to any such question.Lavrentivs wrote:When I posed my question, I took it for granted that the purpose of a language is beauty and spirit, not communication. Is there anything provocative in claiming or asking whether the piano is a more subtle instrument than the synthesizer?
jbutle04 wrote:@ Laurentivs, æ is not a grapheme used in contemporary English orthography. Nor does it serve any phonetic purpose. Your word "quæstion" (not to mention "æqual" [!]) is misspelled. And obnoxious.
Lavrentivs wrote:Oh, sorry, I never noticed that before. On the other hand, what about "æsthetic"?
Baker wrote:purposefully avoids the more difficult and interesting questions such as one on the richness of a language.
Lavrentivs wrote:How, pray, does my comment "drive to the heart of the matter"?
As to your comparison: if I am not mistaken, you are referring to the fact that on Newton's time it was difficult to accept a force pulling without direct contact. Similarly, it is still difficult for some to accept that consciousness does not require some mysterious addition to the material brain to exist. But I fail to see how this thought is obviously parallel to anything that is to do with the richness of a language, so if you would condescend to a slightly more pædagogical sophism, I'd be grateful.
Praeterea La Rochefoucauld memento:
Une des choses qui fait que l'on trouve si peu de gens qui paraissent raisonnables et agréables dans la conversation, c'est qu'il n'y a presque personne qui ne pense plutôt à ce qu'il veut dire qu'à répondre précisément à ce qu'on lui dit. Les plus habiles et les plus complaisants se contentent de montrer seulement une mine attentive, au même temps que l'on voit dans leurs yeux et dans leur esprit un égarement pour ce qu'on leur dit, et une précipitation pour retourner à ce qu'ils veulent dire; au lieu de considérer que c'est un mauvais moyen de plaire aux autres ou de les persuader, que de chercher si fort à se plaire à soi-même, et que bien écouter et bien répondre est une des plus grandes perfections qu'on puisse avoir dans la conversation.