Mark E. Shoulson wrote:
> John Cowan wrote:
> >Don Osborn scripsit:
> >
> >
> >
> >>I pass on the following item in which Saki Mafundikwa offers some
> >>thoughts on the nature of writing in case they may be of interest.
> >>The publisher of his book gave me the pointer to the URL
> >>
> >>number=5003 ... DZO
> >>
> >>
> >
> >Well, he has a broad view of writing if it includes face painting!
> >Writing is generally understood to be the communication of linguistic
> >material in visual form, which excludes most of his examples (they
> >communicate, but what is communicated is not linguistic).
> >
> >
> I'd have to agree there. Well.... there might be some wiggle-room;
> Sampson (I recall) gives an example in his book of a semasiography (??
> I might have completely misremembered this term), which manages to
> relate a very specific and coherent letter, but all through stylized
> drawings and conventions, not related to a specific language at all
> (mathematical notation might be considered a small version of this,
> since the math involved is not related to a specific language too).

The point of that example is that meaning can be communicated _without_
reference to a specific linguistic form; thus it's not writing by any
useful definition of writing. See DeFrancis passim.

> Still, I think the test of generic use applies: a language in which you
> can't say approximately anything isn't a language, it's a code.
> Face-painting can express many things, but even given years to repaint
> and thousands of faces, it can't tell the story of Alice in Wonderland,
> or The Hobbit. Some so-called "primitive" languages might have a tough
> time with that too, but you could eventually get it across, even if it
> meant (in theory) explaining all the alien concepts from the ground up.

Anyway I expect to go to the event this evening. (Too bad the Borders
20% off coupon doesn't kick in till tomorrow.)
Peter T. Daniels grammatim@...