Re: Fwd: Instinctive speech diminishes us not

From: Chris Taylor (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 17:37:14 GMT

  • Next message: Wade T.Smith: "RE: Bin Laden's Statement"

    Received: by id RAA10213 (8.6.9/5.3[ref] for from; Fri, 9 Nov 2001 17:42:12 GMT
    Message-ID: <>
    Date: Fri, 09 Nov 2001 17:37:14 +0000
    From: Chris Taylor <>
    Organization: University of Manchester
    User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-GB; rv:0.9.4) Gecko/20011019 Netscape6/6.2
    X-Accept-Language: en-gb
    Subject: Re: Fwd: Instinctive speech diminishes us not
    References: <>
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
    Precedence: bulk

    > I think there's a difference between saying language capability is
    > genetic, and the form of language is genetic, e.g. the grammar etc., which
    > is what Chomksy argued. I thought that studies of self-invented sign
    > language amongst the poor deaf kids of (.... I don't recall where it was),

    Somewhere in Central America IIRC (Nicaragua?)

    > showed that their untaught sign languages consisted of grammatical
    > structures similar to many languages, had more or less shown Chomsky was
    > right? Ot at least was thought to by some.

    But some structures just 'fall out'; legs always come in pairs - that's
    a program in a sense, but not in a gene sense, it's bigger than that,
    and outside the scope of evolution. We're back to the Goodwin thing
    about exploiting 'out there' principles of the universe. Cars (with the
    odd exception to prove the rule) always have four wheels etc. I think
    what Chomsky missed is that the misapplication of 'rules' could prove
    what he said (evidence of underlying genetic grammar), or could be
    word-scale memes swapping parts of themselves until the definition of
    'fitness' is refined a bit. Like bacterial plasmids. We mark out and
    prepare a plot, but we don't plant the plants - they get themselves there.

    'Language' genes, I think, will turn out to be like Dawkins' gene for
    being poorly educated and unempowered (which is actually the 'gene' that
    makes you black, in a racist society). I know that's a strange example,
    but I do love it...

      Chris Taylor ( »people»chris

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Nov 09 2001 - 17:47:53 GMT