Linguistic Diversity Of Human Languages Essay

Linguistic Diversity Of Human Languages Essay

Length: 942 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Languages vary widely but not without limit. The central goal of linguistics is to describe the diversity of human languages and explain the constraints on that diversity. Generative linguists following Chomsky have claimed that linguistic diversity must be constrained by innate parameters that are set as a child learns a language. In contrast, other linguists following Greenberg have claimed that there are statistical tendencies for co-occurrence of traits reflecting universal systems biases, rather than absolute constraints or parametric variation. Here we use computational phylogenetic methods to address the nature of constrains on linguistic diversity in an evolutionary framework. First, contrary to the generative account of parameter setting, we show that the evolution of only a few word-order features of languages are(is) strongly correlated. Second, contrary to the Greenbergian generalisations, we show that most observed functional dependencies between traits are lineage-specific rather than universal tendencies. These findings support the view that -- at least with respect to word order -- cultural evolution is the primary factor that determines linguistic structure, with the current state of a linguistic system shaping and constraining future states.
Human language is unique amongst animal communications systems not only for its structural complexity but also for its diversity of every level of structure and meaning. There are about 7,000 extant languages, some with complex patterns of word formation, others with simple words only, some with the verb at the beginning of the sentence, some in the middle, and some at the end. Understanding this diversity and the systemic constraints on it is the central goal of linguistics...

... middle of paper ...

... of the world 's approximately 7,000 languages. We focused our analyses on the 'word-order universals ' because these are the most frequently cited exemplary candidates for strongly correlated linguistic features, with plausible motivations for interdependencies rooted in prominent formal and functional theories of grammar.
To test the extent of functional dependencies between word-order variables, we used a Bayesian phylogenetic method implemented in the software BayesTraits. For eight word-order features we compared correlated and uncorrelated evolutionary models. Thus, for each pair of features, we calculated the likelihood that the observed states of the characters were the result of the two features evolving independently, and compared this to the likelihood that the observed states were the result of coupled evolutionary change. This likelihood calculation was

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Voices Of The World : The Extinction Of Language And Linguistic Diversity

- For this summary I watched a video called Voices of the World: The Extinction of Language and Linguistic Diversity. The video starts off with how people believe that there are about 6, 000 languages. David Crystal talks about how with all these different languages half of them are endangered of becoming extinct. Each different language offers a different point of view of the world and culture. He said that if different languages are lost then “we lose the meaning what is it to be human.” Then the video moves on to Australia and that this country has lost “95% of their linguistic heritage.” The video brings in Peter K....   [tags: Linguistics, Language, Spanish language, Dialect]

Better Essays
1388 words (4 pages)

Linguistic Diversity and Multilingualism Essay

- Language has pioneered many interracial relationships and historical milestones. Language is a necessity for basic communication and cultural diversity. Being multilingual is a skill proven influential to a successful future. Due to rapid globalization, countries all over the world are stressing the importance of learning a second, or even third, language. With the exception of time and lack of resources, adults have very few widely applicable disadvantages to learning multiple languages....   [tags: Multilingual Children']

Better Essays
997 words (2.8 pages)

Essay about Prominent Languages are Affecting Minority Groups.

- Economics and the media are changing the face of culture and languages. “As "globalization" increases, so does the loss of human languages. People find it easier to conduct business and communicate with those outside their own culture if they speak more widely used languages like Chinese, Hindi, English, Spanish or Russian.”(National Science Foundation) Commerce and culture has impacted speakers of minority languages and encouraged them to learn the most prominent dialect to avoid future consequences such as limited access to information....   [tags: China]

Better Essays
981 words (2.8 pages)

Modern Linguistics And Its Effects On Human Language Essay

- As each new language that is studied reveals more exciting and unanticipated linguistic features, a shift away from the dominant view of language universality is gradually taking place. Evans and Levison (2009) suggest this generative position, which has pervaded modern linguistics since Chomsky’s proposal of Universal Grammar, be replaced by the functionalist position that heralds language variation as the key to natural human language. This change is concurrent with that of another more specific view that has also restricted linguistic theory for decades, stemming from Saussure’s principle of the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign....   [tags: Linguistics, Language, Language family]

Better Essays
1066 words (3 pages)

Extending Bilingualism In U.S. Secondary Education Essay

- Language is one of the most beautiful techniques that humans have developed. Language allows us to communicate among each other; we can share and understand our and others’ feelings, opinions, and ideas. Because humans are imperfect, we have made language difficult because we have created multiple languages. With lots of language around the world, it is difficult to share, understand, and connect each other feelings, opinions, and ideas. Bilingual students can break this barrier with their culture and schools....   [tags: education, languages, culture, students]

Better Essays
1202 words (3.4 pages)

Essay about Spanish Language Metaphors

- Linguistic Impact In the field of Modern Languages and Linguistics, words are of great importance. A language’s phonology (study of how sounds are organized and used), morphology (study of the form and structure of words), syntax (study of the rules that govern sentence structure), semantics (study of meaning of words, sentences, and expressions), pragmatics (study of aspects of meaning and language use and context), and phonetics (study of human speech sounds) all play an important part in everyday life....   [tags: Linguistics Modern Languages]

Better Essays
727 words (2.1 pages)

The Pursuit of the Preservation of Linguistic Diversity Essay

- Language, the tool by which humans communicate with each other, can be very diverse and is absolutely essential in documenting what it truly means to be a member of any ethnic, political or social group existing in the world today. However, it also follows that with the destruction or decline of a group, so too does the language dwindle in speakers and die. There are many factors responsible for this, such as local attitude shifts towards the language in question, ethnic subjugation/strife, social motivations to push the language to be come moribund; but although it is troubling that with the language death, the “intellectual wealth of the people who use it” (Hale, 1992) is lost as well, it...   [tags: Linguistics]

Better Essays
692 words (2 pages)

Essay on Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis : Linguistic Determinism

- Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis – Linguistic Determinism Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis is named after two linguists known as Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf. Sapir believed that human beings do not live in the society alone and that language of the society makes huge impact on how one views the world. Whorf believes that nature and our native language mold our thoughts and allow us the ability to talk and communicate. Sapir –Whorf Hypothesis states that there are certain thoughts of an individual in one language that cannot be understood by those who live in another language....   [tags: Linguistic relativity, Linguistics, Language]

Better Essays
763 words (2.2 pages)

The Challenge of Linguistics and Cultural Diversity in Education Essay

- “Schools are changing in ways that, up until a few years ago, we thought unimaginable. Today, schools are more diverse than ever, and those trends will continue into the future. Unfortunately, teachers and schools have not always met the challenge of linguistic and cultural diversity” (Laureate, 2014). We must take the opportunity to get to know our students in order to recognize and value their uniqueness. “Teachers must work to understand the cultures of their students in a meaningful way, which involves recognizing the beliefs, values, and behaviors that characterize the various cultures of their students....   [tags: Diversity Essays]

Better Essays
1433 words (4.1 pages)

Essay on Linguistic Internationalization

- Capitalism has been around for some time, and globalization is becoming part of the world. People need to learn different languages to communicate with business from other nations. Esperanto is an easy-to-learn language than can be used to make business with international organizations, and solve the linguistic Issue of learning different languages. Our world is crowded by different languages, some of which have a minimum difference between them and others which are extremely different. Some languages are based on Latin and Greek Words....   [tags: Languages]

Free Essays
365 words (1 pages)