There is no such thing as a small language


Keywords: natural languages, pidgins, (re)constructed languages, language complexity, language decay

In this article it is discussed what the notion small language apart from its designation of a language with a small community of speakers may actually mean. A natural human language, which functions as a full-fledged means of communication, is never small. A language may have a comparatively small phoneme or case system, but the entirety of that language cannot be called small. However, reduction due to language decay, or restriction to certain functions as in case of pidgins, or incompleteness in case of constructed or reconstructed languages may indeed produce smaller languages. The discussion is more of an essayistic style, its purpose is not to present new research results.


Gerson Klumpp (b. 1967), PhD, University of Tartu, Professor of Finno-Ugric Languages (Jakobi 2, 51005 Tartu), gerson.klumpp@ut.ee