posted on Feb, 12 2007 @ 12:05 AM
Surely 'complexity' in a language has very little to do with the number of elemental sounds (I believe they're called phonemes) or letters of the
alphabet in a language? I would expect the real measure of complexity to be more or less grammatical -- a question of, on the one hand, how many parts
of speech, cases, tenses, persons, etc., the language contains, along with the rules for using them, and on the other, how many conventional
exceptions there are to these rules.
I speak a few languages, including the dominant tongue of my own South Asian birthplace. That language has an alphabet of almost 60 letters. Many of
these letters are redundant; for example, a plain 'n' sound has two letters standing for it, and the decision which one to use used is determined by
which of two ancient root languages the word in question is derived from. In terms of speech, the distinction is meaningless, but it persists. There
are other lingual redundancies, such as letters standing for a pure vowel sound and others standing for that same vowel sound combined with a
At the next level, the language has a plethora of tenses and persons: particularly the latter, because the form of address or reference is dependent
on the relative social class of individuals; this is combined with gender distinctions, religious status, etc., to create a mirror of the social and
caste hierarchies in the traditional culture of my country's dominant ethnic group.
In my view, the impenetrability and inflexibility of this language (which was imposed on all my fellow-countrymen by government fiat for an entire
generation, nothwithstanding the fact that the country itself is highly multicultural and large minorities have other mother tongues) have had a
clearly detrimental effect on the economic and social development of the country, and particularly on those who speak it and no other language.
I believe that the principle of natural selection exists among peoples and cultures as much as species, and that, in the long run, such languages and
the cultures that created them will die out. Although cultural diversity will suffer, such an outcome will ultimately be to the benefit of humanity.
There are a lot of cultures around nowadays that should die out.