One WORD language

megamanenm

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One words languages already exist, it'sbasicallywritinglikethis. Take a look at this to educate yourself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysynthetic_language
 

Paul Hearding

Creator of Pro-gamer Gauntlet
Oct 1, 2010
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Kurokami said:
Really, a wolf pack? You wanted to think of a language without words and you thought of a wolf pack? Wouldn't it have been easier to just go with sign language since its a human language?
The language of a wolves is much more subtle (and I would argue, more efficient) than the sign language of humans. Also, as mentioned by Kaosu, their vocal growling/howling is a variation of one word.
 

Admiral Stukov

I spill my drink!
Jul 1, 2009
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Technically, this is precisely what binary is, "1" is high, "0" is low.
High and low as in pitch if you would make a spoken language of it. The word itself could be anything, it's all in the coding.
 

Paul Hearding

Creator of Pro-gamer Gauntlet
Oct 1, 2010
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stukov961 said:
Technically, this is precisely what binary is, "1" is high, "0" is low.
High and low as in pitch if you would make a spoken language of it. The word itself could be anything, it's all in the coding.
^^ This

Haha. Although a normal conversation in binary would take quite a long time (assuming you make the duration for each pitch something that the human ear could pick up).
 

theevilsanta

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I think the most difficult part of a one-word language would be writing and visual language. Imagine trying to do something like follow road signs, much less write a dictionary.
 

Korolev

No Time Like the Present
Jul 4, 2008
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You couldn't have a very complex language that consisted of less than 20 words, and I'm pretty sure there has never been a language that has consisted of less than 20 words. Once human beings developed the mental capacity to attach labels to objects/concepts/actions, they were probably naming things left and right.

I suppose, you could have a language that consisted of less than 20 discrete words/sounds and then used combinations of those words and sounds to create additional labels. I mean, computers, at their root, just use two symbols - 0 and 1. They then use strings of 1's and 0's to communicate information. So I suppose, it would be POSSIBLE to have a language that only consisted of 20 words, provided that the speakers would learn to string together words in order to create complex sentences. But that would be HORRENDOUSLY inefficient and time-consuming. It isn't for computers because they use electrical signals. For human beings, however, to use such a system would be a mind-numbing chore.

So although it would be theoretically POSSIBLE, no one in their right mind would ever make a language like that.
 

Et3rnalLegend64

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I immediately thought of Pokemon speak. Each Pokemon species only gets to say their own name in different tones and by cutting off some syllables.
 

Kurokami

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KaosuHamoni said:
Kurokami said:
Paul Hearding said:
Well, technically you could have a language without words. Take a look at a wolf pack. They communicate through body language and facial expressions. I'm sure you could develop something like this for humans and then throw in just one word for fun.
Really, a wolf pack? You wanted to think of a language without words and you thought of a wolf pack? Wouldn't it have been easier to just go with sign language since its a human language?
The thing about a wolf pack is that they integrate sounds with body language. Sign language, does not. They use sounds when only absolutely necessary, for example a short, low bark means "Danger", and a howl is a location signal and an expression of territory, while all conversation is taken care of, as he said, via body language and facial expressions. Not only that but all of the sounds are variations on one 'word' if you can call it that.
That's a fair point I guess.

Paul Hearding said:
Kurokami said:
Really, a wolf pack? You wanted to think of a language without words and you thought of a wolf pack? Wouldn't it have been easier to just go with sign language since its a human language?
The language of a wolves is much more subtle (and I would argue, more efficient) than the sign language of humans. Also, as mentioned by Kaosu, their vocal growling/howling is a variation of one word.
Can express very little is not the same as efficiency in my books.
 

Fraught

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There are way too many entities and phenomena in the universe that one word could have enough possible intonations and tones you could use it with to talk about all of them.

Also, the internet would be useless.

All in all a very pointless endeavour, should one try.
 

TheBluesader

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megamanenm said:
One words languages already exist, it'sbasicallywritinglikethis. Take a look at this to educate yourself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysynthetic_language
I was already aware that a lot of Native American languages work this way (as well as Ainu, which isn't Native American, but is in a lot of ways very much like Native American, though no one has any idea why and it may have something to do with Atlantis or something, so...yeah.)

But that's not what I'm talking about. In that case you still have a whole bunch of different words for things, you just turn them into prefixes and suffixes of a main word.

But I guess that means that we CAN say there are certainly languages that use what are almost one-word sentences. Which is at least kind of related to what I was proposing.

About sign language: as far as I'm concerned, sign language MOST DEFINITELY has words. They are just pronounced silently with hand and arm movements. I'm recalling my college days where we tried to get the school to hire a sign language teacher so some of us could take sign language to fulfill the basic language requirement. The head of the language department (a terrible Spanish teacher) promptly told us that sign language didn't "count" because, and I quote, "it isn't a real language." I'm not sure why the world's deaf didn't attack the town, except for the fact that it was a small college and they probably have more important things to do.

But either way, sign language has a ton of words, so it has nothing to do with what I was talking about anyway.
 

megamanenm

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TheBluesader said:
megamanenm said:
One words languages already exist, it'sbasicallywritinglikethis. Take a look at this to educate yourself http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polysynthetic_language
I was already aware that a lot of Native American languages work this way (as well as Ainu, which isn't Native American, but is in a lot of ways very much like Native American, though no one has any idea why and it may have something to do with Atlantis or something, so...yeah.)

But that's not what I'm talking about. In that case you still have a whole bunch of different words for things, you just turn them into prefixes and suffixes of a main word.

But I guess that means that we CAN say there are certainly languages that use what are almost one-word sentences. Which is at least kind of related to what I was proposing.

About sign language: as far as I'm concerned, sign language MOST DEFINITELY has words. They are just pronounced silently with hand and arm movements. I'm recalling my college days where we tried to get the school to hire a sign language teacher so some of us could take sign language to fulfill the basic language requirement. The head of the language department (a terrible Spanish teacher) promptly told us that sign language didn't "count" because, and I quote, "it isn't a real language." I'm not sure why the world's deaf didn't attack the town, except for the fact that it was a small college and they probably have more important things to do.

But either way, sign language has a ton of words, so it has nothing to do with what I was talking about anyway.
The word 'word' doesn't really fit when talking about polysynthetic languages since there isn't a space in between them, the word morpheme is more fitting here. (Morphemes are the smallest undividable meaningful units of language, dogs has two morpheme, dog and s, antidisestablishmentarianism has 7, ant-dis-establish-ment-ari-an-ism.) So if you're asking if there exists a language where complex meanings can be made with just one morpheme, then the answer is obviously no, that's like taking every sentence that exists and assigning them a number, that's not how languages work.
 

TheBluesader

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megamanenm said:
The word 'word' doesn't really fit when talking about polysynthetic languages since there isn't a space in between them, the word morpheme is more fitting here. (Morphemes are the smallest undividable meaningful units of language, dogs has two morpheme, dog and s, antidisestablishmentarianism has 7, ant-dis-establish-ment-ari-an-ism.) So if you're asking if there exists a language where complex meanings can be made with just one morpheme, then the answer is obviously no, that's like taking every sentence that exists and assigning them a number, that's not how languages work.
This is all kind of beside the point. My idea was that you could have a one-word language that would operate entire on tonal pronunciations for meanings. People have said the human ear can only hear like 8 different tones, so I guess that wouldn't work.

If we're going to get technical about words and morphemes, then stuff changes. You could have a language that just has one-"word" sentences for everything, words that are composed of a long list of morphemes. So that would be a one-word sentence language, but still not a one word language.

The consensus seems to be that my original idea is impossible if we're talking about modern humans using a modern language. So...I guess that's that.