I was thinking about how a controlled grammar of English can be used as a programming language because it’s fully parsible.
The idea of doing this for other languages, such as Sanskrit, brought me to that fundamental questions of linguistics, which is that it is interesting how different the grammars of English and Sanskrit probably are, and with a little streamlining, presumably any human language can be used as a programming language. But we don’t know the extent of how many different languages and grammatical features of languages there are in the world. It opens the weird but intriguing question that maybe by discovering a new language via field work, we would “discover” a new syntactic feature of language that had never occurred to us before. Sort of related is when you learn a new language and are really surprised by a grammatical feature, for example, in Turkish, when you say “A means B”, you have two corresponding verbs to sort of tag the relationship: “A demek B demektir” (I think).
So it leads to the obvious question of if the grammar of human languages themselves seem to have infinite possible variation (not the number of sentences in a language, but the number of unique grammatical structures across all language), surely there is some set of axioms for how these grammar structure evolve and develop? Or if that’s assuming too much, at the very least, the more reasonable question of what are the limits of human language?
I find the second question way smarter than the first because of how empirical it is. It does not require chasing red herring theories into dead ends. It doesn’t require anything theorizing at all. It’s just plug-and-chug “observation - confirmation”. Sort of like using numerical approximations to get a closer idea of information about the distribution of prime numbers without perfectly proving anything yet, maybe a profoundly simple yet effective way to understand language is to extremely intensively keep trying to empirically generate simple hypotheses about what human language surely can not be like, and just keep doing that till we actually find a pretty stable boundary that holds up against any empirical evidence - found in the wild, or even a constructed language taught to children to see how or if they can assimilate it.
I was wondering if pursuing linguistics as a subtractive process is something any researchers have already attempted?