[PLUG-TALK] A universal language?

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Wed Nov 18 13:25:30 PST 2015

On Wed, 18 Nov 2015 12:21:05 -0800
Mel Andres <mel97215 at comcast.net> dijo:

>  I am posting this primarily for John Jason Jordan.

First, the field of linguistics that you want to look at for this kind
of work is typology. Typologists seek language universals and have
discovered a great many of them, some as absolute universals and many,
many more as universal tendencies.

Second, Chomsky (also at MIT) never postulated a universal language as
such, although I doubt he would argue against it. His real claim is that
that there is a universal _grammar_ framework that all humans are born
with, and which infants populate with the rules of the language(s) that
they are exposed to. With the exception of a really bad work on
phonology that he co-authored with Hallé, Chomsky pays no attention to
phonetics/phonology, morphology, historical linguistics,
psycho-/neurolinguistics, or more applied fields such as
sociolinguistics, discourse/conversation analysis, bilingualism, or
corpus linguistics, among others. He doesn't discredit those fields; he
just says they're not his thing. Yet, these are all part of language.
If you are going to postulate a universal language you're going to have
to include a great deal more than just a universal grammar.

It appears that the authors have a pretty good argument for the
existence of another universal tendency. It might have been better had
they published it in a journal dedicated to linguistics. I don't know
of any linguists who read PNAS.

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