From: Vincent Campbell (VCampbell@dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Thu 31 Oct 2002 - 11:55:43 GMT
<That their particular form is not genetically required (that is,
they are not
> innate). The capacity to learn a language is part and parcel of the
> human condition, but the languages we do indeed learn are arbitrary
> human constructions. They could just as easily for us be other
The particular language one ends up speaking is arbitrary in one sense, but not in the sense that is important in examining cultural evolution. The particular language one speaks is culturally determined, that's the point surely, and why a mental predisposition can't be enough for a definition of a meme.
The question then becomes how a particular language becomes dominant
over others within, say, a nation state. Such processes, it seems to me,
are not products of individuals' mental predispositions, but about social
factors, such as power struggles.
An example might be the Tindall english language version of the
bible, printed in the 16th century. Printed in the southern dialect of
english, this helped cement the southern dialect as the dominant version of
english, with many regional english dialects diminishing in strength as a
result of the (eventual) widespread dissemination of Tindall's version of
the bible, once it was authorised by Henry VIII.
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