Get a site

How to Answer Yes and No in Mandarin Chinese? – YouTube

I saw this video

and it reminded me of another empirical disproof of Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar. One might intuitively think that “yes” and “no” are two very fundamental aspects of any language. Indeed, when learning or teaching languages I advise your first two words should be “yes” and “no”. Ok seems to have become an international word since the 1990s, which proves the tendency of dialects and languages to merge back to each other with improved communication. While Chomsky and his followers might argue that the linguistic convergence is due to the universal nature of generative grammar I disagree. Languages likely did emerge from one common tongue as seen in Hebrew and Hindu myths, and likely in other myths – mythology is oral prehistory. However, language arose from one common tongue due to a genetic bottleneck.

We can see all this from the fact that even a basic element such as “yes” or “no” is not common in languages today. For example, in French we have “si” and “oui” for yes. This isn’t merely langue d’oc, i.e. southern versus northern French. Rather, “si” to me reflects an affirmation of what the questioner has asked, not an affirmation that one is in fact certain; that is, “si” is more uncertain than “oui”. “Are you alive?” “Si.” “Do you believe in the one true God?” “Oui”. In Chinese we most usually repeat the verb which was used in the question:

“Do you know him?”
“Know him.”

ni3 ta1 ren4 shi ma? 你他认识吗?
One can however use bu4 不 as a negation and shi4 de 是 的 as an existential affirmation.

We can easily observe many grammatical divergences which resulted from the migrations and isolations of human tribes from each other since -150,000 years ago. These disprove the theory of generative grammar since they are sufficiently divergent as to be unable to be expressed in a single recursive grammar. Since these divergences appear to have arisen despite the one-time universal language they attest to the fact that language is a social construct, not a neurological inevitability — and thus by extension is not limited to the human species, and only the human species. Chomsky’s theory of generative grammar is simply wrong and empirically refutable.

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes