Talk:Natural language

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Native speakers of constructed languages[edit]

Constructed languages can still have "native" speakers, if children learn it at a young age from parents who have learned the language.

Why is this factoid about here but not in constructed languages? --Ed Poor
I don't think this is actually true, unless the constructed language obeys universal grammar, which I don't know of any that do. Unless there is a citation for this? -- Beland 19:20, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
I'm not sure if got this right, but you seem to be saying that 1) constructed languages cannot have native speakers if they do not obey "universal grammar", and 2) you don't know any constructed languages that obey it. But it is a well-known fact that there are native speakers of Esperanto, whereas universal grammar is a disputed theoretical concept that does not have any commonly accepted definition. --AAikio 06:12, 10 September 2006 (UTC)
Also, in the same section, the article mentions that Esperanto has not been "naturally standardized" by children who would supposedly rid the language of irregularities. While in some languages this may happen, I've added a few words to that sentence as it sounded patently absurd as written, implying that natural languages should be more internally consistent due to the influence of children. Natural languages are full of irregularities though many children have had to learn and use them, and one of the primary goals of a constructed language is to eliminate as many of these irregularities as possible. MXVN (talk) 16:51, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
The requirement that natural languages be "naturally evolved" isn't particularly clear and a better criterion would be that a child has acquired it as a native (first?) language and "language" refers to the communicative system learned by the child (which may be strictly different than the "correct" form of, for example, an artificial language spoken to the child by his parents). Universal grammar (which as a concept is not particularly controversial; however its extent and content surely is a matter of intense empirical investigation/debate) doesn't really have much to do with it, although it is a useful theory for explaining why children "tweak" constructed languages that are taught to them by non-native speakers (see for examples of this, Modern Hebrew, Czech).

Modes of languages[edit]

I'm not sure if it should be added, so I'll let someone else do so if they think it's worth noting. In the opening sentence, it is mentioned that languages can be spoken or signed. I'm wondering if that should be eliminated or expanded in a list. There are many more language modes, which would not fit into a concise sentence. They should either be listed or left out. The modes I can come up with are: spoken written signed tactile Certainly the different modes of a language are related, and not all languages have exist in each mode. Actually, 4 modes could be incorporated into a sentence. I'll try.

Sign and Signed Languages[edit]

This section is bizarre. First of all, it contains a clear bias against sign language leading to what is essentially an advertisement for oralism, listing natural sign language last among the options available to deaf people. Secondly, it grossly overinterprets the cited study (Shabata, 2007), suggesting that due to the relatively low white matter growth of the superior temporal gyrus (which is related to spoken language processing) in early-deaf people, sign language is somehow not a natural language. It also relies on the study's vague definition of fluency in ASL, ignoring important factors such as early exposure to the language. Thirdly, the section hardly mentions sign languages at all, focusing instead on deafness and possible "solutions" to the "problem" thereof. Finally, this biased diversion is irrelevant in any case, since a link to the main article for sign language would be entirely more appropriate. I suggest that we do this instead.Danebell (talk) 04:37, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

It is bizarre indeed, or to be more precise, it seems out of context and quite inaccurate. It is true that sign languages develop only in societies where the rate of deafness is high (vocal languages are always the default), but in these societies hearing people acquire it and use it naturally. One doesn't have to be deaf in order to acquire a sign language as a mother tongue. Also, sign languages are not directly related to gestures or hand movement during speech. This is a whole different subject. Indeed this section should be rewritten. DrorK (talk) 04:57, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
I've changed it according to my earlier suggestion. Ideally, the subsection wouldn't be a recapitulation of the main article, but it's a start.Danebell (talk) 05:50, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Like spoken languages, sign languages can be "natural" or constructed. I added the example of SEE with a citation. I stopped short of calling it "not natural" because that would have been original research (wp:nor). - Mrevan (talk) 11:16, 13 April 2009 (UTC)

A merger is required![edit]

I think that the article 'human language' should be merged into this one (Natural Language). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:37, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

I certainly concur. Nowhere does this article talk about the communication practices of whales or chimpanzees or even ants (talk) 05:41, 28 March 2010 (UTC)Dan
No, the two are not synonymous, as human language and the lead of this article do explain: "Human language" is broader, encompassing both natural and (human-accessible) constructed languages. --JorisvS (talk) 13:52, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
objection The notion of Human language is an umbrella term for constructed languages and natural languages. So, it should not be merged. Sae1962 (talk) 14:58, 3 March 2011 (UTC)
Disagree with the above objection. The other article doesn't have any relevant information which is not present here in greater depth, and this article focuses mainly on human languages anyway. In fact, the entire text of that article is a mere four sentences long, and even says that that "human laguage" and "natural language" are often used synonymously. It makes little sense to have separate articles in this case. Even as you say, "The notion of human language is an umbrella term for constructed languages and natural languages," and that is exactly what is discussed in this article here. MXVN (talk) 16:37, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
who cares? the fact that they are distinct concepts is enough according to the rules. If the articles contain redundant material, then you should just harmonize them. (talk) 07:10, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

Acquisition of spoken vs. written language[edit]

The claim:

Furthermore, natural language acquisition during childhood is largely spontaneous, while literacy must usually be intentionally acquired.[citation needed]

When adding a citation, wrote in the edit summary:

Written languages: whoever requested a citation for *this*?

For the record, I requested it. I was sounding out words in the newspaper before age 3, and during ages 4 to 6, every phrase that went through my mental tape loop would show up in printed or written text on my mental sketchpad before I understood it. I wonder whether I "acquired" reading English in the same way that people "acquire" listening and speaking English, or whether it was just a Tetris effect from teaching myself to read. But then I'm diagnosed gifted. --Damian Yerrick (talk | stalk) 01:50, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Language diversity[edit]

After all, the Language diversity section seems more a depiction of the way Ethnologue classifies languages rather than a summary of studies and data about how many languages are there and how different they are. What I am saying is not that I despise ethnologue, but I would rather see other sources. --MarcelloPapirio (talk) 07:23, 12 December 2011 (UTC)

Suspected copyright problem[edit]

A tag was placed here in good faith misunderstanding of the copyright status of the content: [1]. The book that is linked is actually taken from Wikipedia; on the first page, it says, "Language Editor: By Wikipedians". (See [2]). You'll note that the publisher is PediaPress.

The content has subsequently been removed for copyright concerns - [3]. There is no need to remove this content for copyright reasons, but the source that was cited cannot be used to sustain it, as it is a circular source. It may be appropriate not to return it to the article anyway, without a source. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 20:42, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Verify source[edit]

Source #2 appears to be of dubious authenticity. It is not actually from the book cited, and links to a Google Books document called "Language, by Wikipedians." The section I tagged appears to be from page 56, but as large portions of the book are missing and no e-book is available, no source can be apparently ascertained. -- (talk) 05:48, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Google service[edit]

Nothing Duraisamy. P perumalduraisamy (talk) 15:19, 12 October 2016 (UTC)

“Esperanto was designed by L.L. Zamenhof”[edit]

This may be related with the discussion section “Native speakers of constructed languages”. I did not want to edit the Wikipedia page as I am not neutral about this, as an Esperanto speaker (not native, but using it as home language). A paragraph of the article claims that “Esperanto was designed by L.L. Zamenhof”. I feel that this sentence is currently not neutral. Here are my arguments.

As Zamenhof clearly stated it, he does not consider that he designed Esperanto, but that he started Esperanto (“la inicianto”). The nuance being that the language created by Zamenhof is not normative.

Let me be more precise. Yes, Zamenhof explicitly introduced grammar rules, considering them to be the core of Esperanto. Yes, very few of these rules have been broken during the more than hundred years of Esperanto existence. Also some Esperanto-speaker are consciously breaking some of them in a daily manner: a lot of people have a strong feeling that accusative should be removed from the language, and some of them are intentionnaly removing it from their sentences (sometimes replacing them with the word “na”). This is a profound modification of the grammar, much more profound than (for instance), the removal of circumflexes in French in the last recent years. Other profound modifications include iĉismo or riismo, although they are not commonly accepted (but still exists and evolve in parallel with the language).

The vocabulary of Esperanto have incredibly changed. From the about a thousand words introduced by Zamenhof, there are now more than ten thousands Esperanto words (we call them “roots”). So much more words in Esperanto. Most of these additions are technical words, but not all of them. Secondly, there have been some “natural” modifications. Trendings of words changing from one form to another. The most known examples are country-names (France was initially “Francujo”, but is now “Francio”) and letter removal (the letter ĥ has progressively disappeared from Esperanto, usually replaced by k: “teĥnika” became “teknika”). I think that these modifications are exactly what the rest of the article calls to be “natural modification”. I thus feel that there is a misleading information about Esperanto here.

What do you think about this? I think that Wikipedia should be neutral, which is the reason why I did not edit this paragraph, but as you can see, I think that it is currently not neutral.

Best, Greatfermat (talk) 16:55, 10 August 2017 (UTC)

Modern Finnnish - a constructed language.[edit]

The reason Esperanto is not considered a natural language is cited here as being because:

"Esperanto was designed by L.L. Zamenhof selecting elements from natural languages"

However the language that is now called Finnish was similarly constructed, first by Agricola, who merged the distinct pre-existing regional "dialects" into a phonemic and grammatical structure that could be used both to tanslate the Latin of the bible and to better evangelize it, and then by Snellman and Lönnrot, who extended Agricola's work into a standardized language by unifying Eastern and Western dialects (ignoring the northern peoples) in order to pursue a nationalist agenda. These old so-called dialects were distinct from Finnish perhaps in the way Old High German and Old English differ from their modern equivalents but what distinguishes Finnish is that the transition from any Old Finnish languages to Finnish was not a natural process but rather the product of academic construction for evangelic and nationalist intent. Is not this then an example of a Constructed Language? LookingGlass (talk) 10:08, 29 October 2017 (UTC)

State language[edit]

The term "natural language" is also used to distinguish more naturally developed languages from languages connected to a nation state and its language government systems. -Inowen (nlfte) 00:26, 13 November 2018 (UTC)