On Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 10:24:23 UTC, Chris wrote:
On Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 18:46:06 UTC, Walter Bright wrote:
On 1/22/2014 3:40 AM, Chris wrote:
Syntax is getting simplified due to the fact that the listener "knows what we mean", e.g. "buy one get one free". I wonder to what extent languages will be
simplified one day. But this is a topic for a whole book ...

There was this article recently:

http://www.onthemedia.org/story/yesterday-internet-solved-20-year-old-mystery/

about how english is so redundant one can write sentences using just the first letter of each word, and it is actually understandable.

These examples are more about context than redundancy in the grammar. This is very interesting, because the burden is more and more on the listener and less on the speaker. The speaker can omit things relying on the listener's common sense or knowledge of the world (or "you know what I mean" skills). In the beginning, languages were quite complicated (8 or more cases, inflections), but over the centuries things have been simplified, probably due to the fact that humans are experienced enough and can now trust the "interpreter" in the listener's head. A good example are headlines. A classic is "Driver refused license". Now, everybody will assume that it was not the driver who refused the license (default assumption or the _unmarked case_). If it were in fact the driver who refused the license, the headline would have been different, some sort of linguistic flag would have been raised. This goes into the realms of pragmatics, a very interesting discipline. Some of the concepts found in natural languages can also be found in programming languages. I find it extremely interesting how the human mind (not just language) is reflected in programming languages.

Headlines are a good source. My favourites are from WW2...

MacArthur flies back to front.

British push bottles up Germans.

-<mike>-

Reply via email to