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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

« Fifty Years On | Main | Speech Machinery »



In fact, the co-work of those who emphasize the discontinuity between human language faculty and animal communication and those who emphasize continuity between these two communicative systems has yield to interesting results. One of them is the paper by Hauser and Chosmky on language evolution. In fact, Bickerton resemles it to a proposition paper on the Middle East co-authored by Arafat and Sharon. I stongly agree with the blogger that continuties and discontinuities have to be taken into consideration together. I believe that the study by Fitch which shows that animals can differentiate between singular and plural and between different tones of human languages are as important as his finding that animals don't have the ability to learn recursively.

J. Goard

There is a huge discontinuity between human tool-use-to-get-food behavior and that of our nearest relatives. Among other things, it involves a factor of "depth" (i.e. using tools to make tools to make tools...). As Jackendoff and Pinker point out, we are also really good at nested structures in visual perception. Chomsky's significant opponents in linguistics are those who believe that grammatical structure can be explained by the nature of the learning environment together with general (not language-specific) features of cognition. Hauser and Fitch are not Sharon to Chomsky's Arafat. They are more like Jimmy Carter, an external pawn not really playing the same game. Chomsky keeps right on snubbing his true opponents, such as Langacker, Givon, Bybee, and Croft, even as they grow remarkably strong.

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