From: Mark Beatty (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Thu Feb 08 2001 - 19:43:16 EST
Your question can be restated as, "How does a theory of language account for
different idiolects, socially limited dialects, registers in a language,
language variations from people who speak it as a second language, language
variations of children speakers, language variations of medically effected
people, language variations of sleepy people, and language variations of
alcohol or drug impaired people?"
Perhaps there are several answers to this and the answers vary according to
what aspect of language one is considering. A lot of language is learned
from culture and a lot of this learning informally. For example, the sounds
of any dialect reflect where one grew up, thus New Yorkers talk different
than Texans who differ from Hawaiians. Breadth of lexicon and ability to
put a discourse together are often the result of effort and formal training.
Thus some people differ in skill based on their educationally efforts.
World view effects many presuppositions one takes to a text, so one's
religious, political, and values influence one's discourse.
But I have mostly been studying about syntax. Some people have different
syntax systems. A speaker of English as a second language might put nouns
and adjectives in the wrong order and leave out determiners. Of all the
differences, however, syntax usually varies the least between different
dialects of a language and even different stages of historic development.
Applied to Biblical studies, we see that Matthew quotes the OT more and uses
more Hebrew-based words. Luke uses fancier Greek words. Mark includes
Latin-based words. The explanation I go by is that this reflects the
development of the Church from Hebrew to Greek to Latin. Thus, each of the
three gospels were directed at a distinct language community within the
greater Greek speaking world. All of these, however, use the same syntax.
They might use it in different ways, and they might not use certain aspects
of it like word order variations, but they all use the same syntax.
But when I am talking about syntax, I am talking about things essential to
language. Thus, if a system did not follow an essential principle like
configuration, they I would say it is not a possible human language.
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