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Neuroscience News > #222 The Evolution of Language

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message 1: by David (new)

David Mcdivitt | 65 comments

Excellent podcast starting with Noam Chomsky interview, then Terrence Deacon, then Con Slobodchikoff. All were good. The last interview was best with good perspective on science and neat info.

Ginger mentions Chomsky in several podcasts, disagreeing with him in #30. I remember that one well. In the SkepticallySpeaking interview Chomsky seemed to be reminiscing his glory days when he dethroned behaviorism, unfortunately, with his brand of realism. In the interview he ridiculously attempted to circumvent the word "evolution" as in "language evolution", using the word "change" instead. Gee, what does the word evolution mean? Indeed, Chomsky's language universals emulate Plato's universals quite well.

We have expectations of what things should be. When expectations are normalized in society, we have linguistic definitions for those things. Other people, hence society is required for this to happen. Reducing this to biology alone is not enough.

If a child grew up on an island with no one around, would the child still speak language as if biologically inclined? I don't think so. Yes, the brain has evolved biologically to facilitate language, but there are many nurture factors in environment that lead young children immediately into that activity. A recent podcast I heard, maybe one of Ginger's, spoke of cognition development stemming from actions done by an organism. If predisposed toward various actions, falling into those actions summons the cognitive ability required. Language is an action, too. Predisposition is biology and society.

Listen to this podcast. It has good stuff.

message 2: by Virginia (new)

Virginia MD (gingercampbell) | 321 comments Mod
Thanks for the suggestion. I don't listen to Skeptically Speaking regularly so I appreciate knowing when there is an episode I might want to catch.

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