Language complexity and interlinguistic difficulty

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This paper explores the related but distinct issues of linguistic complexity and difficulty, as from the viewpoint of an adult learner. Language complexity is seen as an objective property of a system, which could in principle be computed mathematically, while difficulty is grounded in the particular person who experiences the difficulty, involving factors such as the linguistic categories present and the nature of their marking in the learner’s own language. This reasoning will be illustrated with one non-Austronesian language, Kuot, and its three Austronesian neighbours, Nalik, Notsi and Madak, of north-central New Ireland, Papua New Guinea.


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