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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

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yair shimron

What makes you think people may be "forced outside their language skills"? they are forced outside their original (mother) tongue and forced to use a language totally new to them which they mostly never have the needed conditions to learn. Also pidgin languages are by no means anything like whatever is the proto language. It is simply a simple means of communication forced on people who are forced away from home. Moreover, those people are not "denied access to a true language". Their true language is not useful at the time. If a few people of the same origin live together at the same place where pidgin is used, between themselves the original language is practised fully skilled. It is simply impossible that people sink down through generations and be settled at some point when the presumed proto language was used. Again, it just impossible that a human beeing lose language skills unless beeing heavily heart.I have met many people who used a pidgin like speech when they were newcommers to Israel. As a matter of fact, many scholars discribe the spoken Hebrew as a result of pidginization-creolization prosseces.
BLOGGER: Pidgins tend to be the least visible languages in the world, and they are very rarely (thank heavens) any more the only language that a person can speak. A typical situation, for example, might be found in Baghdad where US troops and Iraqi people communicate with a pidgin, but when they are in their separate communities the Iraqis use Arabic and the Americans English. Neither community has much reason to think well of the pidgin they depend on. I haven't been to Israel in 40 years, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some kind of pidgin is used in many communications between Palestinians and Israelis. Again, both groups have a community of fellow-speakers to fall back on. If I had to guess where today there are speakers who communicate only in pidgin, I'd start looking around the small countries on the western coast of the Persian Gulf. Many foreigners are brought there from different countries to do low prestige work, and they are often held in conditions of near bondage. There may be workers who cannot fall back on their original tongue because their co-workers speak other languages, so they must conduct their social life as well as their working life in some kind of pidgin Arabic. They are still not reduced to Homo erectus levels, because they can think in their original tongue, and if they have children those children will begin transforming that pidgin into a creole language. Even so, adult workers in situations where they are forced to speak a pidgin both on the job and in social settings are probably the closest thing we've got today to what it is like to depend on a protolanguage. The question I was addressing in my post was why is it that when language and social circumstances grow so dire, there is still a form of speech we can fall back on.

Yair Shimron

Dear blogger, I do thank you heartily for not mentioning my "heavily heart" as an example of written pidgin. However most of your answer suggests quite an agreement with my objections. I'd like to add that my view of the origin of language differs very much from that you and most others draw. Due to the Chomskian legacy it is widely thought that syntax is the heart of language. This is the point of view that is reflected in your "subject and predicate". To my understanding the heart of language is speech that is executed by utterances that carry meanings, and they are not necessarily operated with grammatically ordered phrases. And the meaningful utterance connects man to apes. Therefor what should be first searched and explained is how the articulations of expressive meaningful utterances were changed and evolved to become first primitive words that are articulated by all parts of the voice tract rather than at the glottis alone. If Hebrew were accessed by you I would have mailed you my book which unfortunately I was unable to have it translated yet. The main summaries of which are found at
Yair Shimron
BLOGGER: I think if you look over this blog a bit you will find that I'm largely in agreement with your thesis that <> except that instead of carry meanings I would refer to utterances that pilot attention and that the capacity for joint attention is what disconnects us from apes.


It's a little misleading to say the birds are drawing attention to a predicate. They aren't. They are rather drawing attention to a proposition (subject+predicate), but that is all animals ever do. The only difference here is that these birds recognize distinctions between very similar propositions, but there is no indication that they recognize the relationship between them
BLOGGER: It is also possible to interpret animal cries as instructions. Proposition: Hawk on the hunt. Instruction: hide. What does a bird say?

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