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23 28 chapter 2 Even the parts of speech, the building blocks of theories of grammar, may not be universal. Nicholas Evans points out that there are languages without prepositions, adjectives, articles, or adverbs, and that there is no consensus among linguists on whether all languages even distinguish between nouns and verbs. Even if they do, it is not clear which words belong in which category. ”25 But the language of the Kayardild does; it marks the past tense by adding the suffix -arra to the verb as well as the suffix -na to the noun that is the object of the verb.

32 These painful efforts were whispered rather than vocalized, suggesting that at least part of the problem lay in the vocal component itself. But even the whispered attempts were far removed from the effortless, articulate, but often infuriating chatter of a bright three-year-old human. Chimps, then, seem to be distinctly at a loss for words. Parrots can do a much better job of articulating something like human speech than any primate can. 33 Joni learned nothing approximating speech, but nevertheless loved to make sounds, including laughter.

Even recursion appears not to be universal, and may be absent in many indigenous languages. 45 The fact that many, perhaps most, human languages use recursion is of course good evidence that the human mind is capable of it, even if language can generate any number of different meanings without it. In oral societies such as the Pirahã, word combinations and repetition of phrases may be sufficient to gener- language and Recursion 35 ate all of the meanings required without recourse to the embedding of phrases or other recursive devices.

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A Simple Method for Determining the Colors of the Stars (1916)(en)(5s) by Seares F.H.


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