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Language is beyond words...

Language itself is an organism that seems to exist as both a wave and a particle, just like light. One can look at grammar as it changes though time - this is diachrony. This change is part of what language is (unlike Logic or Math, which deal with the unchanging). Without change, a language would be a dead language, which actually is an oxymoron. For, a recording of a language is not the language. Latin, thus, is no longer a language. (If I only had a dog’s skeleton, I would not say I have a pet dog.)

n the other hand, there is Saussure’s analogy of grammar being like the state of the board during a chess game. What move you should make next has nothing to do with the moves that had been made to get the pieces where they currently are. There is no momentum from the past effecting the present to go into the future. At least, not in chess - or, at least not the way computers would play chess together (unless they use statistics of one another’s tendencies). This is called synchrony. But this, I would argue, is not as relevant to Language as linguists seem to believe. It is a mere extrapolation. Not the LINGUISTICS EXPERIENCE.

Before I end, I would like to make one last comment on how the components of grammar/Language blend. We talked about how phonemes (what we confuse for “letters”) are made up of distinctive features. In turn, phonemes can make syllables, which in turn can make metrical feet. And syllables or feet make words/lexemes, which then make phrases (we have entered into the level of syntax now), which make clauses and then sentences, which constitute the utterances of a discourse (this is pragmatics). Likewise, one or more syllable or foot can make a morpheme. Sometimes, a phoneme alone can be a lexeme or morpheme. And sometimes, a distinctive feature alone can be a morpheme: in the word “man,” the pluralizing morpheme is the feature of fronting the position of the tongue on the “a,” thus making “men."

What if there were a language where every distinctive feature had its own meaning (perhaps in the sense of onomatopoeia)? To what extent, and in what way(s), is this (im)possible?
The English word language ultimately stems from Latin lingua 'tongue'. Often words with an abstract meaning are rooted in words for tangible physical things. But don't take my word for it. Go have fun surfing an etymological dictionary!
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