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:
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