Dr. Egnor explains, “Language is a tool for abstract thinking—a necessary tool for abstraction—and humans are the only animals who think abstractly”: In his discussion of why only humans have language, science writer Tom Siegfried gets a lot right, but he misses the crucial reason. … Siegfried is right that many non-human animals have the […]
Even if nothing else about this article were interesting, its title would be: Vocal communication is a central feature, but language encompasses much more, as linguist and neuropsychologist Angela Friederici pointed out at a recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. “Language is more than speech,” said Friederici, director of the Max Planck Institute for […]
Funny our language should be poorly adapted after all this time. When people are at great pains to try to alter their language so as to pretend that something isn’t true that really is, what should we call that? Should we cater to it?
It’s already been done. As a language, DNA can carry malicious messages: People often say that our genome is like a language. For example, a recent science paper explains that “genomes appear similar to natural language texts, and protein domains can be treated as analogs of words.”1 For that reason, DNA can be used to […]
On major human issues, there are many personal histories and philosophies but no distinct rational mode of thinking that absolutely prevents conversion to another language.
Perhaps we should say, we cannot discriminate “blue” without a word for it? For sure. This is the property of language. As linguists will say, a word excludes more than it includes. And if we don’t have a word, we lack the ability to discriminate (or, as Aristotle shows us, we make up a word on the spot, we “categorize”.)
One wonders how the proper authorities are coming with Darwinizing our language, so as to take out all suggestion of design or agency in nature and in humans. Not far, it seems. Maybe, instead of following Dawkins and insisting that design in nature is an illusion, researchers should just be agnostic about it for discussion purposes, given that that is how they routinely talk about it anyway.
Look how smart he got in the last few decades: This from a discussion of whether Neanderthals had language: Based on these results, most researchers agree Neanderthals were capable of emitting and hearing complex vocalizations. However, they disagree over the implications. While some consider the findings indicative of speech-based language in Neanderthals, others propose these […]
People have often wondered how the Incas could have built such a complex civilization without writing anything down. Maybe they did write it down: The Incas may not have bequeathed any written records, but they did have colourful knotted cords. Each of these devices was called a khipu (pronounced key-poo). We know these intricate cords […]
Can you believe a typical science site coming to a conclusion that is so evidence-based? We all know that parrots can talk. Some people may have even seen elephants, seals, or whales mimicking speech sounds. So why can’t our closest primate relatives speak like us? Our new research suggests they have the right vocal anatomy […]
From ScienceDaily: The vocal tract and larynx is similar in form and function amongst virtually all terrestrial mammals, including humans. However, relative to humans, non-human primates produce an extremely limited range of vocalisations. Published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the new research investigates whether the reason primates are incapable of producing speech is because […]
From ScienceDaily: “A paper published in 2002 (Enard et al., Nature 418, 869-872) claimed there was a selective sweep relatively recently in human evolutionary history that could largely account for our linguistic abilities and even help explain how modern humans were able to flourish so rapidly in Africa within the last 50-100,000 years,” says senior […]
From Geoffrey Pullum at Chronicle of Higher Education: Plenty of linguists have expertise in the analysis of sign languages, and none of them have ever independently confirmed Koko’s incipient linguistic competence. Koko never said anything: never made a definite truth claim, or expressed a specific opinion, or asked a clearly identifiable question. Producing occasional context-related […]
Should young ID theorists study language origins, as retired linguist suggests below? From Ben James at The Atlantic: Oren Kolodny, a biologist at Stanford University, puts the question in more scientific terms: “What kind of evolutionary pressures could have given rise to this really weird and surprising phenomenon that is so critical to the essence […]
Tom Wolfe was the author of The Kingdom of Speech, in which he doubted a fully natural origin for human language. From Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes at the New York Times: In the end it was his ear — acute and finely tuned — that served him best and enabled him to write with […]