RE: Re Grammar

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Fri Apr 12 2002 - 15:09:24 BST

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: RE: Re Grammar
    Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 07:09:24 -0700
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    >It works once you have language but Morgan's argument in the Aquatic Ape
    >Hypothesis (sorry my copy of the book is in a crate at the moment so no
    >detailed references) is that the variety of vocalisation we can make, and
    >other primate species cannot, is only possible because of a particular
    >arrangment of the respiratory and digestive systems. How did that get
    >selected pre-language. A breathing explanation seems more plausible.
    >Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2002 06:30:51 -0700
    >From: "Richard Brodie" <>
    >Subject: RE: Re Grammar
    >The straightforward explanation is that language allows communication of
    >important survival information both in the moment and from old to new

    Although it's hard to assert that one event in a chain of cause and effect
    is more important than all of the others, the evolution of a brain that is
    too big to get through the birth canal and the adjustments the platform it
    rested on had to make to accommodate it probably had more to do with what we
    ended up with than trying to retain air under water. Why are we the only
    species that increases its cranial capacity by three quarters after leaving
    the womb?

    It seems to me that such a course of evolution would owe more to
    communication than anything else. The hunter who can communicate to
    cooperate is more likely to bring back game when it's scarce. The gatherer
    who can communicate acquires the same advantages for finding food as the bee
    in the insect world. The capacity for retaining memes beyond the lifespan
    of the person who invented them gave additional power to survive in a world
    that went through several ice ages. If a wolf develops a new hunting
    technique, the technique dies with him. But man's capacity to retain ideas
    and pass them on to his children as they are growing up had a survival value
    beyond anything any other mammal developed.

    The communicating insects have outlived just about every other insect on the
    planet. It seems reasonable to me that mammals that developed the same
    capabilities would have the same advantages in the game of survival.


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