Blog Rating

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

« Sign Language | Main | The Human Larynx »

Comments

TLTB

I still don't understand how joint attention makes evolutionary sense for language, and this is particularly highlighted in your post. You now have two things that are very special about humans - language and the ability to share 'imagined fields of attention.'Could the same evolutionary leap have given rise to them both?

If you're sticking with an adaptionist model, we're gonna need a story for (i) why our 'joint attention faculty' got so articulated as to provide us with imagined attention fields and (ii) how having syntax is essential to sharing these imagined fields with one another.

-----------------
THE BLOGGER RESPONDS

The basic proposition is this:

1) While communication/information theory excellently describes the actions of DNA, RNA, and many plants and animals, it does not well describe language.

2) Ergo, language is not a too for communication in the mechanical sense of the term.

3) Language as a tool for sharing a field of attention looks like a strong alternative.

As for the other items, stay tuned.

David

The capacity for joint attention appears in human infants at the same time as their protolanguage begins - about 9mths, suggesting an evolutionary link between the two. Before this the child and carers can share emotions, but joint attention and protolanguage enable sharing of (rudimentary) meanings about things in the world.

Joint attention together with protolanguage have obvious advantages for teaching learnt behaviours to the young - that other species lack. They may be the foundations for rudimentary cultural learning that produced technologies such as the million year 'hand axe' tradition.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Bookmark and Share

Your email address:


Powered by FeedBlitz

Visitor Data

Blog powered by Typepad

--------------