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At Inference Review: Human language is much more than a system of signals


Two recent articles in Inference Review provide insight into some of its ongoing puzzles in the huge unmapped territory of the interaction between the mind and the brain:

In his review of a recent book, Language in Our Brain: The Origins of a Uniquely Human Capacity (2017) by Angela Friederici, of the Max Planck Institute, a University of Maryland linguist outlines the information void:

“Which part of our brain carries information forward in time? No one knows. For that matter, no one knows what a symbol is, or where symbolic interactions take place. The formal structures of linguistics and neurophysiology are disjoint, a point emphasized by Poeppel and David Embick in a widely cited study. There is an incommensurability between theories of the brain and theories of the mind…” Denyse O’Leary, “The Origin of Language Remains Obscure” at Mind Matters

Note: Some readers may remember Inference Review from “Inference Review did not set out to make a fool of cosmologist Adam Becker”

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See also: Do big brains matter to human intelligence?


The real reason why only human beings speak (Michael Egnor)

Semi-related, I travel quite extensively and I am always amazed at how well we are able to communicate with each other even when we do not speak each other's language. This is done almost extensively with the use of our hands and our faces (not sign language, that is different). Obviously when I am trying to get my point across I am thinking in English, but it is layered on a thought process about how I am going to make myself understood by the other person without using words. Brother Brian
Excellent article Denyse! bornagain77

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