[b-hebrew] BO and BO)
JAMES CHRISTIAN READ
JCR128 at student.anglia.ac.uk
Wed Aug 22 01:28:42 EDT 2007
IF: The idea that ancient Hebrews started their language with meaningless
syllables that somehow got combined into meaningful words is anathema to me.
How, and by what system, pray, did these meaningless sound bits combine into
meaningful words, again, by a “hardwired algorithm?” I am really astounded
that there are people on the face of this earth who accept such nonsense.
JCR: For people who believe that Yhwh created Adam and
Eve, along with their language, and that Yhwh created
a whole series of new languages at Babel such a theory
presents no problem.
For those that believe people and languages evolved from primates such a theory would present a problem.
Linguistic research with primates shows that Chimps
are able to learn limited numbers of sounds and
associate recallable meaning to them. What they are
incapable of doing is to combine these sounds to form
more complex meaning (they lack the hardware to do it).
IF: Moreover, Hebrew is a root based language not a word based language.
JCR: I appreciate that.
IF: The whole inherent confusion of Indo-European linguistics stems from the fact
that most of its initiators and propagators did not know Hebrew, and hence
did not understand the process of word formation.
JCR: You keep referring to Indo-European linguistics as
if was the only linguistic model the world had to
offer. There is so much more to contemporary
linguistics that the data offered by the Indo-European
family of languages.
IF: Please, don’t come to me with 6 million languages, stay with Hebrew.
JCR: I'm sorry. But the theory you are offering is one
that shakes the foundations of linguistics. In order to
support it, the least you could do is to find at least
one extant living language that exhibits the behaviour
you are suggesting. There are many languages with their
root system in tact that are not Indo-European in
origin. Why do their natives not understand the
elements of their words/roots?
IF: It is also not clear to me what “the data” is.
JCR: Organisations like SIL have sent missionaries to
countries around the world with the intention of
finding languages, learning and documenting them and
eventually translating the bible in to them. The result
of this work is that where we once thought that there
were only just over 200 languages in the world we now
have data of over 6 million documented languages. This
data shows for each language that each language is
composed of words which are composed of combinations of
Secondly, pyscholinguistic research shows that we have
dedicated hardware for phonetic learning in our early
years. This phonetic learning is not accompanied by
understanding of meaning of any kind. Why would the
human race have need of such a biological module if
primitive languages were composed of meaningful
This is the data I am referring to and, as it stands,
it is standing in the way of your theory.
For the record, I would like to make it clear that I am
undecided either way. I would love for you to be able
to prove your theory. But, in order to be able to prove
it to me, you need to at least attempt to address these
issues. If what you were saying is correct then I would
expect to find at least on of the 6 million documented
languages exhibiting the behaviour you suggest and some
kind of psycholinguistic proof that babies are able to
associate consistent meaning to syllables and invent
new words as a result of combining these elements of
language much in the same way as words like 'bookcase'
or 'ashtray' can be invented.
James Christian Read
BSc Computer Science
thesis1: concept driven machine translation using the Aleppo codex
thesis2: language acquisition simulation
athesis2: language acquisition simulation
More information about the b-hebrew