LINGUIST List 12.379

Tue Feb 13 2001

Disc: New: Parallelism Between Lang & Genome

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Zylogy, parallelism between language and genome

Message 1: parallelism between language and genome

Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 17:19:45 EST
From: Zylogy <>
Subject: parallelism between language and genome

Many years ago, during the early '60's when the outlines of the genetic code 
were being adduced by Crick and others, Roman Jakobson speculated about 
parallelism between genetic and linguistic structures. There has been 
essentially silence on the issue since.

Current efforts in genomics suggest perhaps a reexamination of possible 
overlapping genes in certain viruses versus polysynthetic structure, gene 
apposition versus agglutination/serialization, split genes versus syntactic 
combination. Are there genetic structures which parallel ideophones in 
form/meaning linkage? Studies have shown that the structure of the genetic 
code is far from arbitrary. Could the larger gene inventory, as a parallel to 
the lexicon, have been built from nonarbitrary intermediate-sized chunks 
(producing protein structural domains and motifs), and is this a parallel to 
the ideophone to lexeme pathway hypothesized for the lexicon?

Jess Tauber
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