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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« PDFs of Posts to be Made Available | Main | Defining Language »

Comments

Kevin Brady

well, suppose there was a lineage of moms who used complex vocalizations to warn their kids about dangers, and to show them things around them. And incrementally, the sounds got longer and more complex ... and the kids survived in greater numbers over time ... just supposing -------------
BLOGGER: The scenario supposed here occurs in nature. Vervet monkeys famously have a variety of vocalizations for providing group warnings. But this system is outside the speech triangle. Vocalizations triggers an action rather than directing attention to a topic. The example offered here is probably as close as a species comes to language without achieving it. But the fact that the barrier is not crossed routinely tells us how lofty its ridges must be.

basil

Do chimps have the dexterity to make a simple braid? I remember reading that they tried to teach Kanzi,the Bonbo, to make tools, but he had to invent his own methods because of his dexterity limitations.

raymondw

Arbib seems to have a weird conception of language, at least as you describe his view. To say that our brain evolved ready to use language is like saying our hands evolved ready to use rocks to beat someone else's brains in. To objectify language in this way gets us nowhere in our understanding of language. The hominid brain, along with a lot of other necessary anatomical parts, evolved in such a way that led to the selection of language behavior as a result of certain interactions in its social environment.

raymondw

By the way, tool-making is just another type of behavior. If tool-making led the way to language then what led to tool-making? It seems like an endless regress. I believe that both tool-making and language came about as a result of the same processes that govern how we interact with our environment.

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