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Author Topic:   how did our language derive from nothing?
macaroniandcheese 
Suspended Member (Idle past 362 days)
Posts: 4258
Joined: 05-24-2004


Message 31 of 83 (266903)
12-08-2005 4:06 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Wolf
08-12-2005 10:44 AM


dolphins have specific calls unique to each individual. they appear to be names.

i'd find a citation but ... i can't. i'll work on it. someone remind me.


i'm worldwide bitch, act like ya'll don't know.
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nator
Member (Idle past 1077 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 32 of 83 (267114)
12-09-2005 7:42 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Carico
12-07-2005 11:53 PM


quote:
And what does evolution have to do medicine?

Evolution tells us that we are all descended from a common ancestor, and that through genetics we can understand how closely related various species, including our own, are to each other.

So ask yourself; "Why do we do AIDS research on higher primates, like Chimpanzees, if evolution has nothing to do with Medicine?"

For that matter, why use any animal in medical and drug testing if we were not related in some way to them?

This message has been edited by schrafinator, 12-09-2005 07:44 AM


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carini
Inactive Member


Message 33 of 83 (297476)
03-22-2006 11:54 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by shankypanky247
08-11-2005 4:02 AM


Language evolved over a few million years.

Its not that hard to see a group of human ancestors with no speech ability using whistles or grunts to communicate while hunting or letting others know a predator is around. Birds, monkeys and I'm sure other animals do this in todays world.

Those groups of people that could communicate danger, food, or hunting signals the best survived and so did those would could understand them. Over time they evolved and became more adept at using vocal signals and could probably mimick sounds like bird calls etc. Each step along the way it became closer to current human langauge. But even nowadays the !kung! bushman and some tribes in africa still rely on language that consists of clicks and whistles.


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generaljoe
Inactive Member


Message 34 of 83 (298478)
03-26-2006 11:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by shankypanky247
08-11-2005 4:02 AM


easy, even without studies i can tell you that a baby cries when it wants something, you scream from pain etc, these are communication tools, just ours are much more advanced now. The proccess of how it happened i cant say, however when you say our complex language do you mean english? the hawaiins only have 12 letters in there alphabet, some african tribes communicate with not words but sounds....
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tsig
Member
Posts: 732
From: USA
Joined: 04-09-2004


Message 35 of 83 (298953)
03-28-2006 9:43 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by Admin
08-12-2005 7:56 AM


Being tossed into the deep end
Well it was a nice feeding frenzy.
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tdcanam
Inactive Member


Message 36 of 83 (321830)
06-15-2006 11:23 AM


I only read the first post.

My opinion is that language is instictually "learned". Not in the way you may think though. I don't mean we are born with a form of communication. We are born with the capability of learning.

It won't take more than a few hours for me to learn to communicate with a person who only speaks Russian. At first we will only use body language and sounds. But given enough time, we will build on our communication system. We will develope a code, an agreed upon set of symbols/sounds that represent intent.

It won't take to long for me to figure out that a certain facial expresion, coupled with a threatening sound and movement will be followed by an a#$ wipping.

Language grows. It is as simple as that. All we do is find a set of symbols we can agree upon and tweek it occasionally in order to be able to better communicate our intentions.

Language is no mystery. Leave a few babies alone for generations, keep them alive, and they will develop a system of symbols that allows them to communicate. It will be very rough at first, but given the ammount of time we have had to work on it, they will agree upon a complicated system of symbols that allow them to communicate perfectly. Then, we will be able to translate their language into ours, because every piece of their language will have derrived from the basic need that spurred communication. The need to express intent. Languages are formed in a specific order. 4 levels of language which are from the lowest level to the highest; statistics/alphabet, syntax/grammar, semantics/meaning, pragmatics/intent.

It is very simple really. We need to communicate, so we look for ways to express our intent. We end up creating physical, audible, visual, or written symbols and then agree upon a system of those symbols with another in order to be able to express our intent.


  
Ragged
Member
Posts: 47
From: Purgatory
Joined: 10-26-2005


Message 37 of 83 (323058)
06-18-2006 10:35 PM


quetion
Hmm...I was wondering about this for some time now and I think this is a perfect place to ask this.

Could you teach a baby multiple 1st languages? Maybe by showing movies in different languages or read books or even keep foriegn people around the baby. Would it work, atleast partially? Or would it screw up the baby's development? Or both?


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5156
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 38 of 83 (323069)
06-18-2006 11:01 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Ragged
06-18-2006 10:35 PM


Re: quetion
Some children do naturally grow up in bilingual homes (the parents speak two languages). It is my understanding that such children pick up both languages quite well. There are probably web pages on it.

Hmm, here are some links from searching for bilingual children on google:
http://www.ling.ed.ac.uk/linguist/ask-ling/biling2.html
http://www.multilingualchildren.org/
http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/Bilingual-Children.htm
http://iteslj.org/Articles/Rosenberg-Bilingual.html


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rgb
Inactive Member


Message 39 of 83 (323267)
06-19-2006 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Ragged
06-18-2006 10:35 PM


Re: quetion
My 2 nephews grew up tri-lingual. They seem to be doing fine. Like most people that can speak multiple languages, they can just switch back and forth without any problem.

People are most adaptable to changes when they are children. Trust me, letting the kids grow up in a multi-language environment will only do good for them.


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fallacycop
Member (Idle past 1955 days)
Posts: 692
From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
Joined: 02-18-2006


Message 40 of 83 (323287)
06-19-2006 1:48 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by nwr
08-14-2005 1:20 PM


Re: A little background
nwr writes:

Right. Language acquisition has to start relatively early, or there will be problems.


This is strong evidence that language actually depends on some internal specific brain mechanism as oposed to depending on general purpose learning abilities as you said you believe to be the case.
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fallacycop
Member (Idle past 1955 days)
Posts: 692
From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
Joined: 02-18-2006


Message 41 of 83 (323289)
06-19-2006 1:50 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by nwr
08-12-2005 10:43 AM


minority
nwr writes:

Humans certainly have a natural ability for language. It is known that a group of deaf children, if not raised with a sign language, will spontaneously invent their own sign language.


nwr writes:

The minority view, which I share, is that language is a social adaptation that evolved to support communication between members of a society. While there are certainly brain regions specialized for language, particularly Broca's area, the minority view is that language ability mainly depends on general purpose learning abilities. Philosopher Hilary Putnam is one of the advocates of this position.

Given the first paragraph above, it is not surprising that your view is the minority view
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nwr
Member
Posts: 5156
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 42 of 83 (323302)
06-19-2006 2:07 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by fallacycop
06-19-2006 1:48 PM


Re: A little background
nwr writes:

Right. Language acquisition has to start relatively early, or there will be problems.


This is strong evidence that language actually depends on some internal specific brain mechanism as oposed to depending on general purpose learning abilities as you said you believe to be the case.

That's what the Chomskyan linguists argue.

I don't know your background, so I don't know where you were during the Rubik's cube mania of around 23 years ago. It was clear that children picked it up much more readily than adults. So, by the kind of argument you are using, we should conclude that there is a specific internal brain mechanism for handling a Rubik's cube. I guess we all inherited a Rubik's cube gene. I wonder where that came from.

Surely the simpler explanation is that general purpose learning abilities also favor children, and that delayed learning results in poorer learning over many spheres (including Rubik's cube).


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fallacycop
Member (Idle past 1955 days)
Posts: 692
From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
Joined: 02-18-2006


Message 43 of 83 (323325)
06-19-2006 2:33 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by nwr
06-19-2006 2:07 PM


rubiks cube
nwr writes:

I don't know your background, so I don't know where you were during the Rubik's cube mania of around 23 years ago.


I was 13 and leaned how to do it with my uncle who was 46. He learned it better then me.
It was clear that children picked it up much more readily than adults. So, by the kind of argument you are using, we should conclude that there is a specific internal brain mechanism for handling a Rubik's cube. I guess we all inherited a Rubik's cube gene. I wonder where that came from.
I never heard of any 4-5 year old kids that could do well the Rubiks cube. They seem to have no problem with complex grammer concepts(intuitivily) that baffle school age kidds, Even when they are trying to learn their own 1st language grammar rules.

Clearly kidds can marter language skills in a intuitive way much better then they can do it in a explict way. For the former they rely in some specific brain capability which is not available for the latter. the latter relies in general purpose learning abilities.
Think about it. how many kidds have you met that can do algebra at the age of 5(intuitively) better then they can do it at age 10 (explicitly)? clearly we do not have an internal brain mechanism for handling algebra, the way we can handle grammar.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5156
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 44 of 83 (323357)
06-19-2006 3:51 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by fallacycop
06-19-2006 2:33 PM


Re: rubiks cube
I never heard of any 4-5 year old kids that could do well the Rubiks cube.

So the best age for Rubik's cube is older than 4-5. Nobody is suggesting that there is a universal age at which all learning is better.

They seem to have no problem with complex grammer concepts(intuitivily) that baffle school age kidds

Sorry, that's wrong. Ask a 4-5 year old about grammar concepts, and he won't understand what you are talking about. He may have good proficiency at speaking grammatically, but he knows little of grammar concepts.

In any case, grammar is not the whole issue here. A person who learns a second language as an adult may never get the grammar quite right. Maybe he will talk in some kind of pidgin. But, in spite of the broken grammar, the pidgin speaker manages to communicate quite well. In my opinion, the ability of the pidgin speaker to communicate will with broken grammar is already a problem for Chomskyan linguistics. But that's a bit off-topic, so let's not pursue it.

When people talk of a critical period of language acquisition, they are talking about a different kind of problem such as exhibited by feral children. These feral children typically can never communicate well in the language, quite unlike those who use the broken grammar of a pidgin.

Think about it. how many kidds have you met that can do algebra at the age of 5(intuitively) better then they can do it at age 10 (explicitly)?

Again, you are making the mistake of looking to a fixed universal learning age. It's just a fact that a 13 year old can learn algebra far better than can a 23 year old. It is something we mathematicians have to deal with. Somebody who didn't learn algebra in high school will never be fully proficient at it, no matter how many university classes in college algebra he attends.


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fallacycop
Member (Idle past 1955 days)
Posts: 692
From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
Joined: 02-18-2006


Message 45 of 83 (323671)
06-20-2006 12:31 AM
Reply to: Message 44 by nwr
06-19-2006 3:51 PM


Re: rubiks cube
nwr writes:

Sorry, that's wrong. Ask a 4-5 year old about grammar concepts, and he won't understand what you are talking about. He may have good proficiency at speaking grammatically, but he knows little of grammar concepts.

thank you very much for making my point. that was exactly the point I was making. he is proficient at speaking grammatically but still have no idea what grammar is about. How come? how is that possible? the only possible explanation is that when speaking he uses a grammar machine that is hidden deep inside his brain and not available to the general purpose machinery. In other words: he can think grammatically without being able to think about grammar. In the other hand nobody can think algebrically without being able to think about algebra. That's a huge difference.
Again, you are making the mistake of looking to a fixed universal learning age. It's just a fact that a 13 year old can learn algebra far better than can a 23 year old.

Not so fast. We are talking about the same person here. The same person that learns grammar at the age of 5 (learns to make grammatical sentences, that is) will struggle with it at age 14 (may have a hard time grasping it's concepts, because his general purpose machinery is not adequate for this kind of learning). So, your comparisson of a 13 year old with a 23 year old is not a good analogy, since it compares two different people (one that learned grammar at the age of 13 with one that didn't until the age of 23). for your analogy to be a valid one, you would have to be able to say that some people can do algebra at the age of 13 (or whatever) and then this same person at the age of 23 (or whatever) finds himself struggling to understand some basic algebra concept. that just doesn't happen (unless some brain damage in a car crash or something like that happened somewhere in btween).
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