Think about the English language: it is very simple, consisting of only 26 letters. And to my understanding, European languages have finite alphabets as well. Now compare that to Chinese, which has no alphabet but instead thousands of characters - Mao's simplified Chinese does little to make things better. Could a simpler language lead to a greater rate of invention? I mean, the time spent detailing with the nitty gritty details of the language could be spent on more high-level ideas, like mathematics. As a side note, what area of linguistics focuses on rewriting existing languages?

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    From 200CE to 1300/1400CE, China's science and technology achievements dwarfed Western Europe's (see for instance en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… and compare with the comparable article on medieval Europe). From a linguistic point of view, the idea that some languages are simpler than other (even if one restricts to writing systems) is quite debatable. The implicit premises underlying your question thus seem to me very questionable. – Olivier Mar 14 '14 at 9:29
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    Languages don't have letters. That's a property of writing systems. English once had no writing system. Once it gained the Latin script the number of letters has fluctuated, with Ash, Eth, Thorn, Wynn, and maybe some others coming and going. Not to mention ligatures and diacritics coming in and out of fashion. Literacy is itself a technology and does have an effect on other technologies of course. Chinese has been a literate language for thousands of years. – hippietrail Mar 14 '14 at 13:06
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    As mentioned writing systems are not the same as language. But on that topic I think alphabetic writing systems have a clear superiority in the age of computers because of their better representability on low-resolution displays (though that also depends on the complexity of the glyphs in a given system) and in binary. In contrast ideographic/logographic writing systems fare worst. – Justin Olbrantz Mar 15 '14 at 22:25
  • @Olivier Though it'd be more a question of history, I'd contend it's actually from circa. 250 BCE to about 1000 CE that China's technology was waaaay ahead of what the Western world could achieve. For the earlier date, think Ch'in-dinasty ballests and chromed bronze swords, for the later, at that date Muslim scientists would seriously rival the Chinese ones :) – Joe Pineda Mar 16 '14 at 15:10

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