2020: As our contribution to the celebration of International Mother Language
Day, we are pleased to announce the release of the 23rd edition of Ethnologue
on this day.
always in a state of
flux, is forever
Common usage of words shows
constant modification and adaptation.
Over time definitions of words
and phrases evolve into strangers.
"Man is a social being therefore
a language is required which makes it possible to be always
passing from what is known to what is yet to be known.
be a language whose symbols - which cannot be infinite in number - are
extensible to an infinity of
This tendency of the symbol to
transfer itself from one object to another is
characteristic of human
language." - Henri Bergson
cautioned against believing all
adaptations to be perfect, or all
traits to be optimal, as human mental abilities are the
results of adaptation to primitive
enormous periods of
time during which our
ancestors were foragers and hunter-gatherers are
likely to have been
formative for our species.
To regard a
human mind as a blank
slate informed by learning only after its
birth is woefully
inadequate to explain the
development of human
Genetic pre-programming by
natural selection endows
Those in possession of such abilities, even in primitive form, had a
clear survival advantage
over those that did not: linguistic ability is adaptive." - John D.
Corruption of original conceptual language images inevitably
occurs because of the adaption,
modification and evolution of terminology.
Many times a language gains
richness and depth as it evolves.
a language is entirely changed,
the word symbols morph, as is the case when
introduced to the world in 1984.
"The slovenliness of language makes it easier for us to have
objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote,
constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate - dress up a simple
statement and give an air of
to biased judgements.
Adjectives like epoch-making, historic,
triumphant, inevitable, inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid
process of international politics.
Writing that aims at
glorifying war usually takes on an
archaic color: realm, throne chariot, mailed
fist, trident, sword, shield, buckler,
Foreign expressions such as cul
de sac, weltanschauung,
are used to give an air of culture and
Bad writers, and
sociological writers, are
nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than
Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite,
subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their
Meaningless magical words abound
is normal to come across long passages
completely lacking in
fascism has no meaning
except as "something not desirable."
justice each have variable meanings
which cannot be reconciled with one another.
As it is almost
universally felt calling a country democratic is praising it:
consequently the defenders of
all brands of regime claim democracy.
Words of this kind are often
used in a consciously
the person who uses them has
his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means
something quite different.
Statements like Marshal Pétain was
a true patriot; the Soviet press is the freest on Earth;
the Catholic Church is opposed
to persecution, are almost always
made with intent to
Other words with variable meanings used dishonestly are:
class, totalitarian, science, progressive,
Orthodoxy, of whatever color,
seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.
The great enemy of
clear language is deliberately insincere prevarication.
When there is a
gap between real and declared aims, one turns instinctively to long words and
exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting
In our age there is no such thing as "keeping out of politics."
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of
The present political chaos is connected with the decay of
language and one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at
the verbal end.
Political language - and with variations this is true
of all political parties, from
to Anarchists - is
designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an
appearance of solidity to pure wind.
One cannot change this
all in a moment, but one
can change one's own habits, and
from time to time one can, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out
useless phrase - melting pot,
veritable inferno, or other
lump of verbal refuse -
into the dustbin, where it belongs." - George Orwell
"Our daily language, and, in most cases, our
so-called scientific language together with its logic, originated mostly in a
pre-scientific epoch and are largely elementalistic and absolutistic; which
must hamper successful reasoning and
solutions." - Alfred Korzybski
In the beginning
there were no words only representational sounds.
Grunts, groans and
moans of the human animal.
Original Language is locked deep inside each
of us, ready to reemerge whenever we shed the inhibitions of our social
The vocalizations of passionate
sexual abandon are nothing other than the Original Language
utterances are more honest and intimate than semantic exchange.
experiences elicit utterances of the Original Language - spontaneous
vocalizations of ecstasy, lamentation,
fear, rage, and
the cooing noises we used at infants to
placate the giants.
Surviving exclamations create primal
reverberations in the body and psyche - "Tada!" "Yahoo!" "Wow!" "Amen!" "Ahh" "Oooh" "Yippee-ki-yay!" - words in
which the sound is the meaning.
Sanskrit words and phrases often have
an emotional resonance.
Words like "Om," "Ah," "Ram" and others are considered
not to denote or represent the Divine, but to
actually be aspects of the
In Native American languages identity between sound and
Names and nouns are an intrinsic inseparable aspect of
the Named: to name a Being, or any aspect or
function of Creation, actualizes that Reality.
Chinese culture has
strong taboos against speaking aloud dark possibilities, lest it bring them
America, we still knock on wood.
Syntax is the consideration of
language patterns, speech structures and phrasal hierarchies which dictate how words
combine to form sentences.
Syntax attempts to
formally chronicle how structural relations
between elements in a sentence contribute to its interpretation.
principles of formal logical
analysis Syntacticians attempt to represent accurately the proper
hierarchical relationship of elements.
This is crucial to
the correct interpretation, equivalent
to native speaker understanding of idiom, of a given language.
syntax is concerned with the formal structure of sentences,
semantics deals with the actual meaning
of words and sentences.
Semantics is the study of intention -
intrinsic meaning of words and phrases.
Work in the field of philosophy
of language is concerned with the relation between meanings and the world, and
this concern bisects formal
For example, both
language and semanticists use predicate,
modal logics to
express their ideas about word meaning.
concerned with the role of context in interpretation.
Phonology is the study of speech sounds
Phonology has two children, Phonetics and
Phonemics. Phonetics, the study of speech
sounds, has three children - Articulation, Auditory and Acoustic.
Articulation: analysis of the way in which the structures of the vocal
tract, the articulators (tongue, lips, jaw, palate, teeth etc.) interact to
create the specific speech sounds in human speech organs that create rhetoric.
Auditory: analysis of the
acquisition and comprehension or the perception of phonetic sounds of words
of a language through hearing.
Acoustic: the examination and analysis
of the physical characteristics of speech sounds such as color, loudness,
amplitude, frequency, aroma, emotion, the
mean squared amplitude of the waveform, its duration, its fundamental
frequency, its frequency spectrum, and the relationship of these properties to
other branches of phonetics, and to
concepts like phoneme , phrases, utterances, exclamations, hails and
Phonemics classifies and analyzes interrelationship of parts
of speech while deliberately inspecting the evolutionary environmental changes
of the phonemes of a language - the way sounds are arranged in languages helps
you hear what sounds are important in that language.
The unit of
analysis for phonemics is called phonemes.
"A phoneme is a sound that
functions to distinguish one word from another in a language."
Examples: Tie Die, Bass Mass, Went Bent, But Nut Hut, Feel Eel Peel,
Cool Pool Fool, Woulda Shoulda Coulda
Morphology is the
identification, analysis and description of the structure of a given language's
morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech,
intonation/stress, or implied context (words in a lexicon are the subject
matter of lexicology).
Morphological typology represents a method for
classifying languages according to the ways by which morphemes are used in a
language - from the analytic that use only isolated morphemes, through the
agglutinative ("stuck-together") and fusional languages that use bound
morphemes (affixes), up to the polysynthetic, which compress lots of separate
morphemes into single words.
Semiotics: the nature of
The referent, or "real object," represented by a
linguistic symbol exists as a concept held in the mind of the
individual envisioning the referent.
Referents with physical
mirrors in reality are completely different animals than referents found only
in the imaginative
conceptual structures of minds.
What if parallel imaginative
conceptual structures also exist in other minds?
The truth is these
referents exist in every conscious mind.
Look closely and the parallels
become apparent as they are a
reflection of the exterior world
seen through the lens of
uniquely disparate human eyes.
Complex codes of internally
replayed behavior are acted out in a manner similar to that in which
scripts are run in a
conceptual structures are identified by
Carl Jung as
"ground" ideas or
archetypical concepts shared
universally by humans.
move through the stages of life, and although they all have
common conceptual structures surface with
These common conceptual archetypes include
epiphanies brought forth
through living experiences that propagate
altered states of
consciousness uniquely distinct and divergent from all previous states
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