Re: Writing, language, & consciousness

Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Fri, 4 Oct 1996 21:23:15 -0400

In message <> Jesse S. Cook III writes:

> Are you contradicting *The Cambridge Encylopedia of Language*? On what
> basis?

On the basis of personal experience learning a variety of languages, and also
designing an orthography for one. If the Cambridege Encyclopedia of Language
says that Spanish is at one extreme, then they are including at the "extreme"
end languages that have quite a few irregularities. In contrast, both Aymara
and Kreyol have completely regular spelling systems with a consistent one
grapheme to one phoneme correspondence, as is the system I devised for the
Creole English of Carriacou, Grenada. These statements are from my own personal
knowledge of and experience with said languages.

> Illogical! If oral and sign languages [are representations of the human
language capacity], why not written?

Because, oral language (and sign language as well), as realizations or
manifestations of the human language bioprogram, or universal grammar, or
whatever, stand on their own. They do not need writing or any other type of
representation to make them complete. Writing, on the other hand, needs
language or else it's a bunch of scratches on paper. Writing is a way that
humans found to represent, in a partial, halting way, speech. Speech (or sign)
is always more than its written representation.

> Illogical again! The transmition is the manifestation!

Sorry, but no. Transmission is a way of moving something from one place to
another; it is not the thing itself.

> Bullogna [to the idea that languages without a written tradition are just as
much languages as those with such a tradition]!

Sorry again, but I have never read or heard any linguistic argument backing up
this claim, the debunking of which is in fact one of the more important
contributions of linguistic anthropology.

Ron Kephart