LINGUIST List 11.399

Fri Feb 25 2000

Disc: Species Extinction vs Language Extinction

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. A.F. GUPTA, Re: 11.386, Disc: Species Extinction vs Language Extinction

Message 1: Re: 11.386, Disc: Species Extinction vs Language Extinction

Date: Thu, 24 Feb 2000 13:20:29 GMT
Subject: Re: 11.386, Disc: Species Extinction vs Language Extinction

> (Larry Trask) said:
> it is going too far to conclude that therefore
> individual languages do not exist at all.
> Compare baseball. Before the 1850s, there was no set of agreed
> rules for playing baseball. Instead, each town played the game with
> somewhat different rules from every other town, and games between
> towns required a certain amount of negotiation before they could be
> played. Only in the 1850s did a widely agreed set of rules emerge.
> The view above would therefore have us believe that, before the
> 1850s, at least, no such game as baseball existed, but only people
> performing baseball and people creating abstract notions of
> baseball. Is this plausible?

This seems to relate to what "David 
Powers <> said in his posting -- that 
many people were (wrongly) equating THE LANGUAGE with the formalised, 
written, codified, ISO standard with its army and navy. The codified 
rules of baseball (I'll take your word for it) came into being in 
the 1850s but people were doing baseball before that (and presumably 
to this day play baseball according to ad hoc and personal rules -- 
*idioludes*). There might even be a point where baseball and 
rounders coalesce. If there is a new 2052 rule book will baseball 
have ceased to 'exist'. Are baseball, rounders and cricket one game? 
three? How many *dialudes* do they have? So is Larry Trask agreeing 
with me (& David Powers) or disagreeing?


Anthea Fraser GUPTA :$staff/afg
School of English
University of Leeds
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue