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Human language depends on bent vocal tract?

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Hadn’t heard that one. And anyway, … following on “Can we trace words back to the Ice Age?”, on the subject of crackpot claims about animals thinking  just like humans, Tom Bethell writes,

David Berlinski once heard Noam Chomsky say:

Every native speaker of a natural language is capable of producing and understanding infinitely many sentences that he has never heard or spoken before.

Chimps on the other hand, have never been able to speak a single sentence. We would never stop hearing about it if one had.

An expert on linguistics argued in 1975 that until man evolved a bent vocal tract he couldn’t have produced vowel contrasts and therefore he didn’t speak.

This was thought profound, another linguist (Noel Rude) added, “until somebody pointed out that parrots do quite well with just a beak.”

Teaching a parrot to talk:

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG

Why you should think twice about it:

For items by/on by Noel Rude,

Can we really identify words that have come down to us from 10,000 years ago?

Is political correctness stifling linguistics?

What we can and can’t learn about vanished languages and how

One Reply to “Human language depends on bent vocal tract?

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    If we need the bent thing then primates can’t talk.!
    I suspect apes could talk but are too dumb to say or figure out how to combine sounds.
    Language is just a simple thing. its just segregated combinations of sounds.
    Yet the original agreement on what the sounds mean is from a original language. tHis changed at babel. Adam spoke right away with god. So words probably are a expression of thoughts being very concentrated in intensity. Something like that.
    Yes all birds can talk and all creatures I think.
    the birds simply mimic combinations of sounds but without intent to express their thoughts.
    Birds singing is just another example of combinations.
    Animals are quite fine with a few grunts.

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