Re: The Anthroplogy of the New World
14 Dec 94 11:02:45 CST

In article <>, (Gerold Firl) writes:
> A side-issue: on re-reading _ishi, the last yahi_, by kroeber, I noticed a
> claim that california showed greated linguistic diversity per mile than any
> place on earth outside of new guineau and southern sudan. California does
> not have the rugged terrain of new guineau, nor has it been inhabited for
> anything like the span of time that man has been in the african savanna.
> Any idea how this situation occured?
> --
I've noticed changes in the English language even in the 38 years of my
lifespan, so thousands of years, with no written standard to which
a people can refer, must really give a great deal of opportunity,
especially in a large, underpopulated continent; all it takes is
for people to mumble, or to have their speech covered by external
noise, for a great deal of misunderstanding to take place and for
language to change dramatically in a single generation: this
latter situation must be especially pronounced in those whose
have had less opportunity to become fully acquainted with the
language in question, such as younger people and those whose
first language is another. California has an abundance of
both the young and those whose first language is Spanish,
or Chinese or Japanese and is a noisy place (like the whole
culture), so one should hardly be surprised to find the
possibility for all sorts of creoles and pidgins developing.
While this assumes that English is the dominant language which
each person tries to have a version of, there must be a strong
need for many non-Spanish speakers there to pick up at least
some Spanish - even Arnold did!
One presumes that as more and more TV and radio stations
accept presenters and readers who speak a non-standard version
of English of Spanish, the linguistic diversity will increase,
or else find some convergence, since this is what people hear
in the background of much of their lives. Educational
language requirements will also have an effect.
Additionally, there are many occupational jargons, and
modes of speech which are characteristic of social cliques (for
instance the much imitated -because of TV?- "Valley girl" -
whose characteristic inflections and idioms can be heard even
in the prairies of Canada!): these will certainly colour the
speech of any region where a particular profession dominates,
whether it is Silicon Valley, orange plantation, or
industrial park.
( The type of language that one ecounters in
"Riddley Walker" or "A Clockwork Orange" could easily evolve
in a couple of generations, although in these books it's
meant to *represent* an even more changed language.)
John Blyth