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A critique on the immutability of word order in a language and science in general


First I must declare I am no expert both in linguistics, science or politics. I
have lived long in the cozy camp of Kantian idealism for many years and have only moved slightly from it to Hegelian and Marxian dialectical materialistic positions. I do not posses the precision or clarity of Vladimir Lenin, Christopher Caudwell or Mao Tse-Tung to criticize intellectual giants such as Joseph Stalin or the giant of a linguist Merritt Ruhlen or the Nobel laureate physicist Murray Gell-Man.

The giant of a Central European intellectual Karl Marx has been trying
to invert the world order by putting the proletariat worker on top of
the political system. Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung
have been trying to follow in the great master’s foot steps.

Industrialization and Science having understood
the theory of every material thing, in its triumphalism, declares from
its glorious ignorance that it has reached the limits of science and
that science now governs and defines the limits of human existence. In
this narrow materialistic outlook what we forget is that this is the
limit as perceived by current human material outlook as conditioned by
the present society. Joseph Stalin in his “Economic Problems Of
Socialism in the U.S.S.R.” in 1951 mentions these limits as posed by
the laws of Science and how it must be understood that these limits posed
by Science cannot be abolished and can only be circumvented. Mao Tse-Tung criticized Stalin and mentioned that these limits are not really
material limits but limits posed by our perception and as perception
of materials improves these limits can also be improved.

In another interesting lecture on linguistics Joseph Stalin
highlights the difference between base and superstructure in his
“Marxism and Problems of Linguistics” in 1950. He triumphantly declares that the base determines the super structure and since the Russian language has not changed in its underlying phonetics and grammatical structure much after the October revolution, that it is not part of the super
structure as some have alleged it to be.

It must be said that everything that doesn’t move is not solid and
that everything that moves is not necessary liquid. Even solids
some times creeps and moves as in earth crust which sits under a
molten layer of lava, although at the surface, it all seems like
everything is solid and do not move. We have seen continents move,
north pole shift to the south and vice-verse.

The erudite linguist Otto Jespersen describes how the English
language has been chiseled and perfected over many centuries from its raw
form slowly and continuously, although rather imperceptibly. However, there have been also been major landslides and avalanches in English, no doubt triggered by great political events. The Great Vowel Shift in English
between 1400-1600 was undoubtedly due to the peasant revolt, the
revolt from the last Prince of Wales, Owain Glyndŵr and ramifications
of these events and the eventual over throw of monarchy in
England by Oliver Cromwell. Overthrow of feudalism in Europe a century
later had quite similar Great Vowel Shift in other European languages also.

Recently, Murray Gell-Man and Merritt Ruhlen have studied human
languages in the aspects of word order. It is believed at least by
Merritt Ruhlen that all human languages have evolved from a single
language. In “The origin and evolution of word order” by Murray
Gell-Man and Merritt Ruhlen, PNAS, 2011, they have quite rightly
refuted suggestion that the ancient language had SVO order by
Indo-European enthusiast. Single language origin of all languages of
the world is an interesting hypothesis that is likely to be true if
spoken language is what distinguishes humans from other animals. It is
now known that humans were reduced to a population as low as 5000-10,000
at one stage in Africa. It is not clear if language is that
evolutionary trick that made them escape this population crisis.

Among all the word order, the VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) is the word order that is followed by  Afroasiatic languages, Mayan languages, Otomanguean, Salishan languages,  Austronesian languages. These are the primitive languages of the world. Murray Gell-Man and Merritt Ruhlen conclude from their study that mother of languages of humans must have been a SOV language that later evolved to be SVO language. I think that both SVO and SOV transitions are possible.

Although as observed by Joseph Stalin that even after a great
revolution it did not change the word order of Russian, certain strong
cultural changes do impact on the grammatical super structure of the
language. During early stages of human evolution, human society
society was in matriarchy as clearly demonstrated by Lewis H.Morgan and
Marija Gimbutas. As explained by Marx and Engels, this early
primitive stage of communism would be a society that had high respect
for human labor and material objects of nature. Very likely word order
would be VOS or VSO word order. It is these primitive languages that are likely to be genderless languages, due to their lack of gender discrimination in their social practices.

In advanced slave societies and feudal societies, the SOV/SVO word order
is more likely. SOV to SVO transition is quite feasible as suggested
by Gell-Mann and Ruhlen but that is only of recent word order
transition and the most likely ancient word order of the mother of all languages could be either VOS or VSO.

Spoken language started in ancient matriarchal society or mother society, and is known as Mother tongue, even now.  They sang lullabies as music, and poetry was the ancient form of the language. In Tamil, poetry meters are derived by analogy with  weaving and stitching of flowers in a garland. VSO forms of language structure are quite common even now in Music or Poetry. Prose writing was a later form of invention in language.

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