Welcome. I share your passion for Amerind Languages. I actually got my degree in it (aka..the unemployment degree
)I have quite a few resources on a vast array of native American languages. My knowledge stops south of Texas however.( I never studied much about the South American families, like Tupi, Arawak, Ge, etc..)
Wow I didn't even know there were degrees for that. Very cool.
I got my degree in economics with a minor in Korean. But I've be a computer programmer for about 10 years. Actually, learning programming languages and spoken languages aren't really very similar, but there are a few things that are. I've had to learn many programming languages and they each have their own way of doing things. You get to be pretty good at learning new programming languages after going through the process a few times. It comes to a point that you really just need to learn the syntax and nuances of the particular language. That's kind of how I learn spoken languages now. Just list out all the grammar and vocab, and I can figure it out.
Even though linguists sometimes like to downplay the notion of a Universal Grammar, it still seems that people are people, and there are pressures to have languages behave in similar ways. They really are not wildly different. They all seem to gravitate towards compact ways of expressing similar ideas. Like, every language I know has a way to deal with person (1st, 2nd,etc.) and the pronoun or 'fixes all seem to be very short, one or two syllables max. That's just how humans like it. It seems like there's like this pool of syntax to start off with, and the speakers seem to exert pressures on the language to suit them. So then you get language drift, but always towards ease of use.
So there's a parallel with that and programming languages. They tend to lean towards terseness, but not to the point of making it more ambiguous or confusing. But programmers like to type less, and they like to have fewer statements. So new programming languages come out and make the programmer's job easier, but still expressive.
BTW, I keep seeing people posting text in scripts that I apparently don't have installed on my computer. I've got firefox so I see the ascii numbers in boxes. Is there some font package I need?