Thursday, June 29, 2017

Arts Journal - Words

A Kind Of Language Linguists Thought Would Be Impossible (And You’d Agree), But It Exists

“One core property of human languages is known as duality of patterning: meaningful linguistic units (such as words) break down into smaller meaningless units (sounds), so that the words sap, pass, and asp involve different combinations of the same sounds, even though their meanings are completely unrelated. …Try inventing a lexicon of tens of thousands of distinct noises, all of which are easily distinguished, and you will probably find yourself wishing you could simply re-use a few snippets of sound in varying arrangements.” But there’s a language that does manage without duality of patterning: it developed on its own, relatively recently, in the Negev Desert.

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