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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

« Genes and Language | Main | Tamed Males »


Janet Kwasniak

I see the following weaknesses in this otherwise pretty good article.
(1) The author has not grasped your distinction between just social animals and animals that have an advantage in trusting one another. It is probably not to the apes advantage to have language but it is to humans – for many reasons like cooperative child raising. The idea is brushed past with the reference to intention but it is not nailed. Maybe
you should invent a new word for social animals that must share
information to survive to make the distinction clearer. (2) I think that some definitions get in the way. For instance I know people who are fairly good with language – effective, communicative, expressive – that hardly ever utter a complete sentence. If you followed them waiting for
an cast iron example of a sentence as opposed to little phrases, you
could follow for some time. I would like to see researchers describing how animals actually communicate without all the worrying over whether
something is or is not a word, sentence, syntax, inflexion etc. We
should look at how apes communicate (with cries, gestures, postures, objects etc.) then postulate an evolutionary path from ape abilities to
human ones before finally drawing a line between non-language and
language. (3) Some of the neural stuff is gibberish. What is the meaning of this quote for example, “all the underlying systems of perceiving and
producing sounds were already in place as part of the primate heritage, and natural selection had only to find a way of connecting these systems
with thought”,or,“the uninhibited interaction between different neural systems as critical to the development of language”?

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