looks like science is wondering if and how our languages are connected and if we can make it happen to have a universal language on the planet. Interesting – makes me wonder, if it is even necessary for humanity to develop such a “spoken language”. How about our 3rd eye ability to communicate via telepathy and vibrational information?? Is not the sound created in our oneness, the language that already unites us?
We are all the time connected and the veil is getting thinner every minute. I trust that we can come to a place of honesty and authentic communication – that allows us to talk and understand on a level of frequency.
Many are already consciously connected that way. Many will follow as the energy field rises and we feel the universal interconnected net of humanity – the vibrations of friends, family, lover and even enemies will talk to us louder and clearer then ever!!
It is all a matter of using our ears to hearing!
Blessings and hugs!
by Cathleen O’Grady
Language takes an astonishing variety of forms across the world—to such a huge extent that a long-standing debate rages around the question of whether all languages have even a single property in common. Well, there’s a new candidate for the elusive title of “language universal” according to a paper in this week’s issue of PNAS. All languages, the authors say, self-organize in such a way that related concepts stay as close together as possible within a sentence, making it easier to piece together the overall meaning.
Language universals are a big deal because they shed light on heavy questions about human cognition. The most famous proponent of the idea of language universals is Noam Chomsky, who suggested a “universal grammar” that underlies all languages. Finding a property that occurs in every single language would suggest that some element of language is genetically predetermined and perhaps that there is specific brain architecture dedicated to language.
However, other researchers argue that there are vanishingly few candidates for a true language universal. They say that there is enormous diversity at every possible level of linguistic structure from the sentence right down to the individual sounds we make with our mouths (that’s without including sign languages).
There are widespread tendencies across languages, they concede, but they argue that these patterns are just a signal that languages find common solutions to common problems. Without finding a true universal, it’s difficult to make the case that language is a specific cognitive package rather than a more general result of the remarkable capabilities of the human brain.A language universal would bring evidence to Chomsky’s controversial theories.
A lot has been written about a tendency in languages to place words with a close syntactic relationship as closely together as possible. Richard Futrell, Kyle Mahowald, and Edward Gibson at MIT were interested in whether all languages might use this as a technique to make sentences easier to understand.
The idea is that when sentences bundle related concepts in proximity, it puts less of a strain on working memory. For example, adjectives (like “old”) belong with the nouns that they modify (like “lady”), so it’s easier to understand the whole concept of “old lady” if the words appear close together in a sentence.
You can see this effect by deciding which of these two sentences is easier to understand:
“John threw out the old trash sitting in the kitchen,” or “John threw the old trash sitting in the kitchen out.”
To many English speakers, the second sentence will sound strange—we’re inclined to keep the words “threw” and “out” as close together as we can. This process of limiting distance between related words is called dependency length minimisation, or DLM.
Do languages develop grammars that force speakers to neatly package concepts together, making sentences easier to follow? Or, when we look at a variety of languages, do we find that not all of them follow the same pattern?
They also found that some languages display DLM more than others. Those languages that don’t rely just on word order to communicate the relationships between words tended to have higher scores. Languages like German and Japanese have markings on nouns that convey the role each noun plays within the sentence, allowing them to have freer word order than English. The researchers suggest that the markings in these languages contribute to memory and understanding, making DLM slightly less important. However, even these languages had scores lower than the random baseline.
The family tree
This research adds an important piece of the puzzle to the overall picture, says Jennifer Culbertson, who researches evolutionary linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. It’s “an important source of evidence for a long-standing hypothesis about how word order is determined across the world’s languages,” she told Ars Technica.
Although the paper only looked at 37 languages, it’s actually incredibly difficult to build these databases of language in use, which makes it a reasonably impressive sample, she said. There is a problem here, though: many of the languages studied are related to one another, representing only a few of the huge number of language families, so we’d expect them to behave in similar ways. More research is going to be needed to control for language relatedness.