Bob-Question About Natural Lnguage

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Bob-Question About Natural Lnguage

Postby Don_U » 06/11/11, 4:36 pm

If natural language is computational then would it be evolutionary as well? If so, what evolves a natural language? The development of computational skills? What drives computation? Is it sociological influence. Or is evolution an attribute of computation?
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Postby bob » 06/11/11, 7:48 pm

I'm not sure where you got your first "if" statement there, or how you're defining its terms. It's generally thought that [a] language's evolution is driven by social memes. For example, in 1066, England was invaded by France. The ruling class thus suddenly spoke French. If you wanted to do business with the government, you learned to speak French. And most importantly, if you wanted to be chic, you spoke French. The power of all this is difficult to imagine, but look at this: English is a Germanic language, yet, currently, 40-60% of its vocabulary is derived from French, a Romance language. All thanks to William the Conqueror.

Other evolutionary trends in English are much harder to pin down -- for example, google the "Great vowel shift"

If you're speaking of language in general, instead of a particular language, the sources of its evolution are very murky, and some of the theories are even cartoonish (at least they were the last time I looked), but of interest to the question is the fact that most linguists and anthropologists seem to think that there is a natural propensity for language in both the human mind (a whole section of the cortex devoted to it, after all) and the human anatomy, meaning the vocal mechanism. Without such a vocal mechanism, speech, the media through which language primarily travels, is impossible, at least as we know it. And without speech, surely language -- as we know it -- would never have evolved. (Well, maybe as something similar to signing, like Amslang, or some other such language carrying tool).

I don't want to give short shrift to the mind part of the equation--but I'm not qualified to speak much about it. You want to look into the psychology of language.
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