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http://www.sciencealert.com/hu...than-6-000-languages

Is Chomsky saying, "I told you so?"

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Geoff,
 
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Hmmmm... A language-related post on a language-related board, and nobody reads it? Do I have bad breath?
 
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At the moment the forum is showing that the post has been read 13 times, Geoff. I don't think that's bad for less than one day, bearing in mind that not everybody visits multiple times a day.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I also think many people, for some reason, stick to the top three forums. I do like making other forums more active, though. For me, our wireless has been acting up and sometimes I just give up and don't post. I suppose I'll have to spend another 4 hours on the phone with Comcast, only to find the wireless is worse than it was before.

As for the article, very interesting. I'd love to see Goofy weigh in on it. It does seem to support Chomsky, you are right. I suspect it is partly true (some languages have similar sounds), but that's not the case for all languages.
 
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Sorry, catching up late here.

Sure wish I could find an article on this with a nice long comment thread. (Ugh, must I read the paper?) The author seems so skimpy & conservative, speculating on possible reasons for notable findings. Maybe it was enough to simply announce the breakthrough.

The idea that there might be some ancient meta-language seems so far-fetched as to be mentioned a distant last after what seem to me more obvious speculations.

I wouldn't focus on archetype words like mama & dada, because the first sounds uttered by babies are most likely to mimic whatever language they've been listening to since 7 mos in utero. But why would it be surprising that most words for tongue have 'l'? That's the main noise it makes when you move it around aimlessly. And perhaps the Germanic languages start 'tongue'-words with d or t because their languages' mouth-set is more closed compared to languages further south.

Just one example. But there must be many more illustrations of meaning tied to the range of human physical vocality. And of course simple mimicry (like the word for 'nose' containing nasal sounds, or the words for small things containing high pitches).
 
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Your "nose" example seems reasonable if one hears it in such languages as French or its predecessor, Latin. Even Russian is similar, but Greek turns its nose up at the idea, sounding more like the stuff that runs out of one's nose than the nose itself.

You raise another point: Fetuses hear sounds in utero, so I wonder whether children born listening to pop music are more frenetic, more "type A" than those whose mothers sang lullabies or listened to classical music?
 
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When I was pregnant with #1, I decided to spend time getting re-acquainted with the piano, & practiced mostly Chopin, even learning a new one. He adapted to sleeping in a separate room at age 6 mos soothed by a tape casstte at bedtime. Spurning all kiddie & lullaby selections, his nightly fave was Horowitz: Favorite Chopin.
 
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Great story, Bethree. When I was pregnant with #1, we went to several D'Oyly Carte Gilbert and Sullivans since they came to Chicago. Catherine danced in utero, and she still enjoys G&S.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by bethree5:
his nightly fave was Horowitz.

There's a Carolyn Horowitz and a Stephen Horowitz, both MDs, in Sewell, NJ. They came over and played the piano with you?
 
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quote:


quote:
The findings suggest that humans speak a kind of 'universal language'


No it doesnt

quote:
and go against a long-standing principle of modern linguistics


No it doesnt

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=28328

quote:
And the associations can be negative too, with the words we use to describe things in different languages showing a common tendency to avoid particular vocal sounds – such as the word for "you", which is unlikely to include sounds involving the letters u, o, p, t, d, q, s, r, and l.


This makes me suspicious. What sound is q? Are all these 6000 languages written with the Roman alphabet?

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Goofy, I am not sure where you're getting your quotes from above.
 
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From the article that Geoff started this thread with.
 
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Ahhhh - I was thinking it was a quote from the posts here.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by bethree5:
But why would it be surprising that most words for tongue have 'l'? That's the main noise it makes when you move it around aimlessly. And perhaps the Germanic languages start 'tongue'-words with d or t because their languages' mouth-set is more closed compared to languages further south.


Because its colder up north?

The Latin for tongue, lingua, is from an older Latin word dinga. The initial d changed to l probably under the influence of lingere (to lick).
The Lithuanian cognate begins with l, and they're pretty far north.

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Move the tongue a centimeter and one goes from "L" to "D".
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff:
Move the tongue a centimeter and one goes from "L" to "D".


According to the textbooks /l/ and /d/ are articulated at the same position. But the tongue is shaped differently for each because with /d/ it is blocking airflow, and with /l/ it lets air pass on either side.
 
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