Noam Chomsky on the Evolution of Language: A Biolinguistic Perspective. (Image: Lauren Walker / Truthout) Human language is crucial to the scientific quest to understand what kind of creatures we are and, thus crucial to unlocking the mysteries of human nature.
In the interview that follows, Noam Chomsky, the scholar who single-handedly revolutionized the modern field of linguistics, discusses the evolution of language and lays out the biolinguist perspective -- the idea that a human being's language represents a state of some component of the mind. This is an idea that continues to baffle many non-experts, many of whom have sought to challenge Chomsky's theory of language without really understanding it.
Journalist and ''radical chic" reactionary writer Tom Wolfe was the latest to do so in his laughable new book, The Kingdom of Speech, which seeks to take down Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky through sarcastic and ignorant remarks, making vitriolic attacks on their personalities and expressing a deep hatred for the Left. C. Noam Chomsky: This is quite true. When computers learn language they inevitably adopt human's implicit biases — Quartz. Come to Silicon Valley, California.
The link between language and cognition is a red herring. Scientists working on animal cognition often dwell on their desire to talk to the animals.
Oddly enough, this particular desire must have passed me by, because I have never felt it. I am not waiting to hear what my animals have to say about themselves, taking the rather Wittgensteinian position that their message might not be all that enlightening. The evidence is in: there is no language instinct. Imagine you’re a traveller in a strange land.
A local approaches you and starts jabbering away in an unfamiliar language. He seems earnest, and is pointing off somewhere. But you can’t decipher the words, no matter how hard you try. That’s pretty much the position of a young child when she first encounters language. In fact, she would seem to be in an even more challenging position. In the 1960s, the US linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky offered what looked like a solution. Chomsky Was Right, NYU Researchers Find: We Do Have a “Grammar” in Our Head. A team of neuroscientists has found new support for MIT linguist Noam Chomsky’s decades-old theory that we possess an “internal grammar” that allows us to comprehend even nonsensical phrases.
Lewis Thomas on our Social Nature and "Getting the Air Right" “What it needs is for the air to be made right. If you want a bee to make honey, you do not issue protocols on solar navigation or carbohydrate chemistry, you put him together with other bees (and you’d better do this quickly, for solitary bees do not stay alive) and you do what you can to arrange the general environment around the hive. If the air is right, the science will come in its own season, like pure honey.”— Lewis Thomas. Yuval Noah Harari on Why Humans Dominate the Earth: Myth-Making. Lewis Thomas on our Social Nature and "Getting the Air Right" How 'Concept Creep' Made Americans So Sensitive to Harm. A mother leaves her son in the car while popping into a store at a strip mall.
She is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. A high school senior complains to her Facebook friends about a teacher and is suspended for “cyberbullying.” Students at Wellesley start a petition calling for the removal of a statue of a man in his underwear, claiming that the art piece caused them emotional trauma. So many residents of Santa Monica, California, claim to need emotional support animals that the local farmer’s market warns against service dog fraud.
How did American culture arrive at these moments? What is blue and how do we see color? Analogy as the Core of Cognition. What a difference a word can make. People spend a good deal of time talking to one another, and in general we do it pretty well.
We might feel excited, angry, embarrassed, or — if we’re lucky — loved, in the course of our daily conversations. So is there any benefit to thinking about a science of talk? The Science of Sarcasm? Yeah, Right. 'I know, right?': The anatomy of a wonderfully nonsensical phrase. Hidden Cues That Sway You. The Secret Life of Pronouns: James Pennebaker at TEDxAustin. Exercises. To Predict Dating Success, The Secret's In The Pronouns : Shots - Health Blog. Hide captionPeople who are interested in and paying close attention to each other begin to speak more alike, a psychologist says. iStockphoto.com People who are interested in and paying close attention to each other begin to speak more alike, a psychologist says.
On a recent Friday night, 30 men and 30 women gathered at a hotel restaurant in Washington, D.C. Thinking alike changes how we speak : NewsCenter. As social creatures, we tend to mimic each other’s posture, laughter, and other behaviors, including how we speak.
Now a new study shows that people with similar views tend to more closely mirror, or align, each other’s speech patterns. In addition, people who are better at compromising align more closely. “Few people are aware that they alter their word pronunciation, speech rate, and even the structure of their sentences during conversation,” explained Florian Jaeger, associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester and coauthor of the study recently published in Language Variation and Change. “What we have found is that the degree to which speakers align is socially mediated.” The links between bloggers' personalities and their use of words. You can tell a person's personality from the words they use. Neurotics have a penchant for negative words; agreeable types for words pertaining to socialising; and so on. We know this from recordings of people's speech and from brief writing tasks.
The Weird Thing About Facebook: Status Updates Are The Most Memorable Writing You Do. If you’re a Facebook skeptic and believe that most status updates are over-sharey and show-offy (babies, weddings, the aftermath of too much beer), you are not wrong.
But whether inane or informative, there’s something interesting about Facebook status updates: According to a new study, we are one and a half times more likely to remember them than any other form of written language. In fact, we remember the random online blathering of friends and family two and a half times more consistently than we remember faces. These are the unequivocal findings of “Major Memory in Microblogs,” a new study from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Warwick. “It’s not that you can remember the Facebook posts a little better--you can remember them a lot better,” says study co-author Dr. Laura Mickes, who calls the findings “jaw-dropping.” Consider this. The Study. Your words matter. Often what happens when people are just talking to each other in their everyday lives is that they are just talking and talking and no one is really listening.
Then when every once in a while somebody does listen, they have some kind of overreaction to what someone said or how someone said it; therefore, there’s a great deal of miscommunication going on, and you don’t create a sense of intimacy and connection between you and the other person. Words Can Change Your Brain.mov. 5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think. Keith Chen (TED Talk: Could your language affect your ability to save money?) Might be an economist, but he wants to talk about language. For instance, he points out, in Chinese, saying “this is my uncle” is not as straightforward as you might think. In Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle. The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger.
The Hidden Connection Between Morality and Language. Tragedy can strike us any time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best of it. When Frank’s dog was struck and killed by a car in front of his house, he grew curious what Fido might taste like. So he cooked him up and ate him for dinner. It was a harmless decision, but, nonetheless, some people would consider it immoral. Or take incest. Language: What foreign words are difficult to translate into English. 11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures.
» Lera Boroditsky, “How Language Shapes Thought” Keith Chen: language that forecasts weather — and behavior. RSA Animate - Language as a Window into Human Nature. The language of lying - Noah Zandan. Words, words, words. Steven Pinker: Linguistics as a Window to Understanding the Brain. Daniel Everett: Endangered Languages. Imagine A Flying Pig: How Words Take Shape In The Brain : Shots - Health News. The Psychology of Language: Which Words Matter the Most When We Talk. One of the things I fuss about a lot (especially at Buffer) are words—very simple words, in fact.
Metaphors We Think With: The Role of Metaphor in Reasoning. The way we talk about complex and abstract ideas is suffused with metaphor. The Mind is a Metaphor: As It Were. Poetry for Everyday Life. The sentence is only worth quoting because in 28 words it contains four metaphors. Economies don’t really gain traction, like a tractor. Metaphors We Live By, Lakoff and Johnson. Lost in Translation: Exploring the Connection Between Language and Thought. Is A Cat A Cat? (Derrida + Double Dragon) – 8-Bit Philosophy. Shakespeare’s Genius Is Nonsense - Issue 18: Genius. A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain. The myth of language universals — Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
Alan Watts - To Speak the Truth. Idea Framing, Metaphors, and Your Brain - George Lakoff. The Chicken, the Egg and The Hermeneutic Circle.