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Why are languages getting less complex? (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Why are languages getting less complex? (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CG111:

If current languages evolved gradually from primitive grunts or noises, earliest languages should be the simplest. But ancient languages such as Latin and Vedic Sanskrit are more complex than modern languages in terms of cases, genders, voices, verb forms, etc.

Source: Brown, Walt, 1995. In the Beginning: Compelling evidence for creation and the Flood. Phoenix, AZ: Center for Scientific Creation, p. 8.


CreationWiki response:

Talk Origins has done some interesting editing to the claim. First they eliminate the reference to languages becoming more complex as one looks further back in time. They also eliminate the dates and the placement of Greek between Latin and Vedic Sanskrit. They also reduce the list of areas where ancient languages are more complex. The original list includes: syntax, mood, and tense. The omission of syntax is interesting since Talk Origins claims the opposite in response #1. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Languages are not becoming less complex overall. They may be simpler in some ways (such as verb endings) but are more complex in others (such as syntax and vocabulary).

There is a conflict here since both sides claim syntax as support and both provide documentation. The result is that syntax can be considered a tie. Even if vocabulary is granted to Talk Origins, that leaves 1/8th of the areas of language listed that favor Evolution and 6/8th contrary to it.

2. Evolution is not necessarily a uniform progression from simple to complex. Evolution towards simplicity is consistent with both biological and linguistic evolution.

This is a typical Evolutionist claim that allows them to have it both ways . The simple fact is that to go from grunts to modern languages would requires going from simple to complex. However the evidence points in the opposite direction.