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From:  Joe Martin
Date:  Wed Feb 9, 2000  3:11 am
Subject:  Re: ...LUC...

On Tue, 8 Feb 2000, Stuart Thiessen wrote:

> For example, an Eskimo/Inuit has multiple words for snow, each having
> important distinctions to him. His view of the Artic tundra is vastly
> different from mine because in the languages I know, there are no such
> distinctions.
> Correct me if I'm wrong, but

------Well, ok, since you asked :-). That isn't true. Before quoting it
you might check out the book
"The great Eskimo vocabulary hoax, and other irreverent essays
on the study of language / Geoffrey K. Pullum. University of Chicago Press,1991.

Pullum traces the origin and history of this constantly repeated non-fact.
Basically, Inuit, like any agglutinating language, has multiple words for
everything; and on the other side, so does English, as {snow, powder,
drift, hardpack, crust, slush, etc--and I'm not even a snowboarder.)

Still, your basic point is the Whorfian view held by Anthrolpological
linguists, contra the Chmoskyian view held by Generativists. All this is
interesting for lotsa people, but on the SignWriting list, let's not go
there. (^_^) (private e-mails welcome)

As regards SignWriting, it's important that it doesn't record meanings at
all; it only records
the visible form of what is said, and leaves it to the individual reader
to give it any meaning. That is what makes it "different from

ASL (an incorporating language) must have a bazillion words for snow, and
Signwriting can record them all, but only to the extent that they are
signed slightly different.

One of the problems is that no one has ever defined what a word is. I
think its nice that SW can write "I give you" or "I talked with him."
or "Do you want it?" as one word (?), the way they are in ASL.

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