In the early 1960s, a doctoral student at Cornell University wanted to figure out whether there was any truth behind the “cultural stereotype” that certain foreigners speak faster than Americans. He recorded 12 of his fellow students—six Japanese speakers and six American English speakers—monologuing about life on campus, analyzed one minute of each man’s speech, and found that the two groups produced sounds at roughly the same speed. He and a co-author concluded that “the hearer judges the speech rate of a foreign language in terms of his linguistic background,” and that humans the world over were all likely to be more or less equally fast talkers.This demonstrably false nonsense was still accepted doctrine in the '80s when I worked in academic speech research. Experts "explained" that Spanish sounded faster because it had a more equal stress on syllables, compared to English with its strong stressed and weak unstressed. I knew it was nonsense at the time. You can prove it for yourself with a good parallel translation (not computer translations). Just count the syllables. Spanish consistently has twice as many syllables as English for the same sentence, but the spoken sentence takes the same amount of time. I had also observed this in SW listening. International broadcasters featured identical news broadcasts in several languages. The Spanish version and the English version said the same things in the same five minutes. It's good to see that linguists are starting to accept the obvious reality:
In the half century since then, more rigorous studies have shown that, prejudice aside, some languages—such as Japanese, Basque, and Italian—really are spoken more quickly than others. But as mathematical methods and computing power have improved, linguists have spent more time studying not just speech rate, but the effort a speaker has to exert to get a message across to a listener. By calculating how much information every syllable in a language conveys, it’s possible to compare the “efficiency” of different languages. And a study published today in Science Advances found that more efficient languages tend to be spoken more slowly. In other words, no matter how quickly speakers chatter, the rate of information they’re transmitting is roughly the same across languages.Obviously true, but the emphasis on energy misses part of the reason for "inefficient" languages. Life is the OPPOSITE of efficiency. Life NEVER takes the path that minimizes energy usage. Modern Darwinians are DIAMETRICALLY wrong when they base their theories on energy efficiency. They do it because drunk streetlight. Energy usage is easy to measure with treadmills and calorimeters and other simple instruments. Those extra syllables and phonemes and tones and intonations serve several purposes that are more important than conveying data but harder to measure. I've been discussing this from several angles. I'll just do three partial reprints: Partial reprint 1.
Agglutinative languages mark the noun and stop there. Mechanistic logic says that one set of attachments gets the meaning across, so that's all you need. Synthetic languages spread the grammar across a major part of the sentence, generally with different forms and different mappings for nouns and adjectives and articles. In synthetic languages the splashed-out forms are more like a spice or color than a mechanism. In German the article normally carries the case and number fairly reliably; the noun may carry only the number; and the adjective may carry only the case. Everything depends on everything else, so each word carries less of the load both productively and receptively. You can sniff the relationship from one or all of the pieces, and that's enough.Partial reprint 2.
The Latin-loving youngsters are magnetized by the PERMANENT force field of Natural Law. They are repelled from the Satanic chaos of Soros and Bergoglio, attracted to PERMANENT AND MEANINGFUL STRUCTURE. Why is Latin more suitable than modern languages to pull you into permanence? For the same reason that Bach is better than Hillsong, the same reason that the Mass and Rosary are better than Mindfulness. PERMANENT AND MEANINGFUL STRUCTURE. The rule is repeated in other religions. Eastern Orthodox uses Old Slavonic in its services. Hindus use Sanskrit. Muslims use classical Arabic. Serious Protestants prefer King James. Those differences aren't nearly as stark as Latin vs modern English, but they are always in the same direction. In simple terms, more God means more grammar. In technical linguistic terms, tradition goes toward 'synthetic' and modernity goes toward 'isolating'. Modernity is more efficient for damn sure. Measured by Shannon information, you can transfer the same message in a much shorter utterance when you skip the 'redundant' suffixes of Latin. English is unquestionably better for everyday business.Partial reprint 3.
Continuing with Del Giudice's magnificently productive question about mental defensible spaces against pathogens. How about defensible cases? Languages are certainly distinct mental spaces. Well known. An idea or a joke rarely transfers properly between languages. I've noted before that a well-structured language with good internal modularity protects people against invasive ideas. Often-invaded cultures and languages like Russia develop sophisticated complexities that are impossible for invaders to understand. Invading cultures like USA and invading languages like English are simple and crude. We are the pathogen, so we don't need to defend against other pathogens. Babel tells us that God wanted modularity, not universality. Why? To protect us against both physical and cultural pathogens.
Labels: defensible cases
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