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Has Wordcraft ever had a discussion of "viral language?" By that I mean the differences among (i) a language, (ii) its written form, and (iii) the people(s) who "carry" it?

I once read that Turkish and Korean might be related, as Altaic languages. Suppose linguists can indeed determine that they are connected.

The written forms are very different, Western-alphabet based for Turkish, and ideograms for Korean, so the "mediums" have diverged.

The Turkish and Korean populaces have diverged as well, so different "carriers," too.

But the language, like a good virus, rides comfortable with both, spreading east and west from central Asia with its "hosts."

RJA
 
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Robert, is "viral language" your coinage or is it actually a phrase? I have never heard of it, and I tried googling but only came up with dictionary definitions of "viruses" of the discussion of computer viruses.

Very interesting point. One would not expect Korean and Turkish languages to be related. I have always wondered how different languages have derived. For example, why is Hebrew and Chinese so different from French and English?
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Good subject! Another example is Viet Namese, which is, as spoken, clearly Asian, but they had no written language of their own, using Chinese pictograms instead. Now, thanks to the French having colonized Indochina, Viet Namese is written in a specially accented Roman alphabet.

Glad you're here, Robert - you're making my head hurt, though. Wink
 
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I can't see that it has any connection, but I read in my newspaper today that the Turkish footballer (soccer player to the US members) Alpay Ozalan has signed for a South Korean club. He said, "I came here because I have memories of South Koreans cheering for Turkey during the World Cup."
 
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Yes, I have to agree, Robert. (Do we have an RA now?)

You're making my brain hurt. But in a good way.

To me this sounds like an assertion that I read ages and ages ago. Biological evolution is Darwinian (well, with the refinements of punctuated equilibrium, etc.). The transmission of knowledge, however, is Lamarckian.

Language as a virus? Great analogy.

Dang I hate using my brain and thinking.
 
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Dang I hate using my brain and thinking.
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Hey, WB, meet me at the library and I'll read "Minniver Cheevy" to you! Wink
 
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"We must find out what words are and how they function.
They become images when written down, but images of words repeated in the mind and not of the image of the thing itself."

- W.S. Burroughs
 
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boy, howdy! I guess it must be true:
Language is a Virus
 
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thanks to the French having colonized Indochina, Viet Namese is written in a specially accented Roman alphabet


Actually, it was Portuguese missionaries (in the 17th century) who developed a romanization scheme that the modern day Vietnamese orthography, quoc ngu, is based on.

Also, regarding the Altaic theory (where the Japanese, Korean, and Turkic languages are genetically related), it's not without its problems and critics.
 
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For example, why is Hebrew and Chinese so different from French and English?


Because French and English are more closely related to each other than to either Hebrew or Chinese. Conservative dates for the split up of Proto-Indo-European (the hypothetical language that Italic, and later Romance, and Germanic languages are descended from) is 6000 BP. If the Semitic language family and Chinese are related, and they probably are, the comparative-historical method for reconstructing their hypothetical ancestor doesn't seem to work after about 10K years or so. There are some linguists who say it is possible to reconstruct this language, and they are doing it. It's called Nostratic. I don't think it's possible.
 
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Great to see you back, Jheem! Wink I was afraid that maybe we had lost you.

This discussion is way out of my league. However, Jheem, you stimulated me to read more about "Nostratic," and for those of you who, like me, are clueless about it, I found this informative discussion. As Jheem indicates, there is some criticism about the Nostratic methodology. I was surprised to see that linguists have developed such a systematic science to studying language development that they even use such scientific terms as looking for "false positives." I always associate that term with quantitative research or medical tests, though I guess that's my background. The study of linguistics seems fascinating!

[This message was edited by Kalleh on Sun Feb 1st, 2004 at 17:46.]
 
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Kalleh-- There were some problems with your server a while back and then I got busy with work.

Anyway, there's some good intro books out there: W. P. Lehmann, Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, H. M. Hoenigswald Language Change and Linguistic Reconstruction, E. H. Sturtevant Linguistic Change: An Introduction to the Historical Study of Language, and A. Meillet Comparative Method in Historical Linguistics. There mostly out of print, but you can always find used copies. Powells.com or Abebooks.com.
 
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I think I should point out that the media that carry Korean and Turkish are exactly the same. Human brains haven't diverged between Korea and Turkey. A writing system is a minor adjunct to the transmission of language.
 
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I think I should point out that the media that carry Korean and Turkish are exactly the same. Human brains haven't diverged between Korea and Turkey. A writing system is a minor adjunct to the transmission of language.


Interesting. If the question is how languages (or perhaps texts) are transmitted, I'd have to say that it can be in written, signed, or spoken form, but the transmission occurs outside of the brain or mind. Does Korean or Turkish exist in brains ab ovo or do they develop there after reception of spoken texts? Does thought precede language? Or vice versa?
 
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Languages can jump from brain to brain via a written text, but the receiving brain has to know the language. A language can be <i>stored</i> in written form, like a dormant phase of some unicellular life form, like a spore, but it won't spontaneously reawaken and become language from the text.
 
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Yet, as far as we can determine, language is learned via (spoken) texts. At some point, a child goes from being a non-speaker to a speaker just by being exposed to texts.
 
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Not spoken text, but spoken input. Brains are genetically designed to convert spoken language input to internal grammars.
 
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Not just any old input, though, if the input is gibberish or noise, you don't get a language out the other end. That's why I was using text, as in something (e.g., utterances) in the language being acquired. As for innate or universal grammars, not all linguists believe in such.
 
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There were some problems with your server a while back and then I got busy with work.
Might I interrupt this interesting conversation for a bit? Yes, we did have server problems at a very unfortunate time when we had 6 new posters. Apparently Infopop will soon be updating all their servers so this shouldn't happen again.

Thanks for the reference suggestions on linguistics, Jheem. While the large Powell's Book Store is in Portland (lucky Asa!), we do have one here in Chicago. I will definitely check it out!
 
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While the large Powell's Book Store is in Portland (lucky Asa!), we do have one here in Chicago. I will definitely check it out!


Their inventory is also available for purchase online. The stores in Portland are fantastic though. You must also have some great bookstores in Chicago.
 
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My favorite on-line bookstore is amazon.com

My favorite off-line bookstore is The Tattered Cover in Denver, which, as I recall, occupies an entire city block and is several stories tall. It has reading rooms with couches and coffee. And books galore.

~~~ jerry
 
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Asa--meet me at Powell's? And you can read me anything you like. Wink
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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Does Korean or Turkish exist in brains ab ovo
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And are we positive that language is processed in the same way in all populations? Certainly it is not processed identically within a single culture. Once we thought that Broca's area was THE language processing area, yet brain scans have shown activity in several areas, and differing levels of activity among various groups, so who's to say that a rose is a rose is a rose?

Oh, WinterBranch, when will you be arriving? Powell's is HUGE, so wear your hiking boots!
 
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..that is, is language a virus? Neal Stephenson explored the possibility in Snow Crash, only his was a more malevolent one...Anybody read it?
 
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Other than Wm Burrough's "Language is a virus from outer space." And Laurie Anderson's song. There was Stephenson's Sumerian and finally Monty Python's joke that could kill. Translating it into German took several teams for safety's sake.
 
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