Q: Are Math and Language Evolution related?

  • Why would somebody want to formalize language?Math was invented to solve administrative problems or other practical situations. It seems that coping with complexity played a huge role in that.
    • Could that mean that the principle of order and chaos that possible determines complex systems is also the principle that lead to the invention of math?
    • That means: is there a point where complexity can exist, while also retaining order by the use of abstractions, like a symbolic language?
    • Could the same principle hold for the evolution of language? Is it that words and sounds got more distinguishable because we needed to differentiate between more things, situations, objects etc in our environment?
  • Can we then also say that finding a universal grammar is related to the idea of finding a groundwork for mathematics? That means could we say that the work of linguists like Panini and Chomsky (Syntactic structures) are related to the work of Whitehead and Russell (Principia Mathematica)?
  • Is formalizing a language a feasible enterprise at all?

Although I have no answer to this last question, I can say that indirectly the attempt to formalize a language did lead to some very interesting discoveries. Namely the formal languages that resulted in the first programming languages. Which means that the attempt to find a universal grammar, lead to the groundwork on which all our computer programs are based nowadays!

Note: interesting interview on complexity with Peter Sloot , computer scientist at the University of Amsterdam.

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