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 Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, in Leipzig, Germany. “Speech … uses a limited set of vowels and consonants to form words. Language, however, is a system consisting of words … and a set of rules called grammar or syntax to form phrases and sentences.” Nonhuman primates can learn the meaning of individual words, she notes, but aren’t capable of combining words into meaningful sequences of any substantial length. That ability also depends on circuitry connecting different parts of the brain, current research by Friederici, collaborators and other scientists is now showing. Tom Siegfried, “Why speech is a human innovation” at Knowable Magazine
Actually, language is more than sentences too. It’s an effort to comprehend, express, and explain meaning in a variety of ways. Most life forms don’t have a human-life language because they don’t need one. They don’t have anything to say for which screams, snarls, chirps, and grunts wouldn’t work just as well.
We don’t think because we have grammar. We have grammar
If researchers can’t address the implications of that fact, they will tend to be stuck in issues around the shapes of larynxes and so forth. As if that was really the point.
But at least we aren’t hearing that various life forms really do have a human-like language and our standards are just unfair to them, the way human-directed intelligence tests are unfair to apes.
See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
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2 Replies to “Why speech is unique to humans”
The following paper holds that since words themselves contain syntax then language could not possibly have been acquired gradually but must have ’emerged’ abruptly:
Much like the unchanging rules for mathematics are not reducible to any possible materialistic explanation but must necessarily exist in a transcendent immaterial Platonic Realm, these unchanging rules for grammar or syntax must also necessarily exist in a transcendent immaterial Platonic Realm:
The irresolvable problem for reductive materialists who are wedded to the reductive materialism of Darwinian evolution is that reductive materialism itself denies the existence of all immaterial realities.
Dr. Michael Egnor points out that this unique ability of humans to think ‘abstractly’ about unchanging immaterial entities, makes us “more different from apes than apes are from viruses”.
The researchers appealed to ‘circuitry connecting different parts of the brain’ in order to try to explain the Darwinian origin of human language, but as Paul Davies pointed out, this “is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.”
Indeed, the circuitry of the brain itself, although it certainly cannot explain how humans can possibly think abstractly about immaterial objects, much less can it explain the origin of human language, the circuitry of the brain itself is itself not reducible to the reductive materialistic explanations of Darwinian evolution.
Again, the ‘bottom up’ reductive materialistic explanations of Darwinian evolution simply address the problem from the wrong conceptual level,
Indeed, ‘biological form’ itself is irreducible to the ‘bottom up’ reductive materialistic explanations of Darwinian evolution:
Moreover, this ‘top down’ immaterial ‘positional’ information that is necessary to explain ‘form’, which is not reducible to the information on DNA, and that is being imposed on top of material substrates in order to give ‘form’ and ‘circuitry’ to biological organisms in the first place, is now empirically shown to be its own distinct physical entity that is separate from matter-energy,
A physically real entity that has, of all things, a quote unquote ‘thermodynamic content’
These experiments demonstrating the physical reality of ‘immaterial positional information’ have now been further refined to the point of building an ‘information engine’:
But what is most striking about this engine that is powered by immaterial information is that it is the ‘knowledge of the particle’s position’, aka Maxwell’s demon, that enables information to have an efficiency that exceeds the conventional second law of thermodynamics. As Professor Renato Renner states, “Fifteen years ago, “we thought of entropy as a property of a thermodynamic system,” he said. “Now in information theory, we wouldn’t say entropy is a property of a system, but a property of an observer who describes a system.”,,,
In other words, ‘immaterial positional information’ is now empirically shown, directly contrary to the reductive materialism of Darwinian evolution, to be a physically real entity that is separate from matter-energy and this ‘top down’ immaterial positional information is also now empirically shown to be property “of an observer who describes a system.” In other words, immaterial mind is now empirically shown to be necessary in order to give us an adequate explanation as to how any particular organism may achieve its basic ‘form’ or how any particular brain may achieve its basic ‘circuitry’.
As to speech in general, in 2014, a group of leading experts, in this area of language research, authored a paper in which they stated that, after 40 years of research, they had ‘essentially no explanation of how and why our linguistic computations and representations evolved.,,’
Best Selling author Tom Wolfe was so taken aback by this honest confession by leading Darwinists that he wrote a book on the subject.,,,
In other words, although humans are fairly defenseless creatures in the wild compared to other creatures, such as lions, bears, and sharks, etc.., nonetheless, humans have, completely contrary to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking, managed to become masters of the planet, not by brute force, but simply by our unique ability to communicate information and also to, specifically, infuse information into material substrates in order to create, i.e. intelligently design, objects that are extremely useful for our defense, basic survival in procuring food, furtherance of our knowledge, and also for our pleasure.
And although the ‘top-down’ infusion of immaterial information into material substrates, that allowed humans to become ‘masters of the planet’, was rather crude to begin with, (i.e. spears, arrows, and plows etc..), this top down infusion of immaterial information into material substrates has become much more impressive over the last half century or so.
Specifically, the ‘top-down’ infusion of mathematical and/or logical information into material substrates lies at the very basis of many, if not all, of man’s most stunning, almost miraculous, technological advances in recent decades.
What is more interesting still about the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand and create information, and have come to dominate the world through the ‘top-down’ infusion of information into material substrates, is the fact that, due to advances in science, both the universe and life itself, are now found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.
As Vlatko Vedral, who is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, states “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information”
In fact, “The ‘grammar’ of the human genetic code is more complex than that of even the most intricately constructed spoken languages in the world.”
It is hard to imagine a more convincing proof that we are made ‘in the image of God’, than finding that both the universe and life itself are ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our ability infuse immaterial information into material substrates.
I guess a more convincing proof that we are made in the image of God could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was God.
And that just so happens to be precisely the proof claimed within Christianity.