what's a meme>>Origins of Language

Dr I Price (PEWLEYFORT@compuserve.com)
Sun, 15 Jun 1997 06:21:06 -0400

Date: Sun, 15 Jun 1997 06:21:06 -0400
From: Dr I Price <PEWLEYFORT@compuserve.com>
Subject: what's a meme>>Origins of Language
To: "INTERNET:memetics@mmu.ac.uk" <memetics@mmu.ac.uk>

Chris Cleirigh asks:
>What I was getting at is how do we get from no language to
>language if language memes are identified with
>Rthe physical stuff out in the environmentS? snip<

Bill Benzon [MUCH SNIPPED]

> But when the brains of certain very
clever apes changed just a little, we get a dramatic change in the dynami=
of culture so that in the new regime the "collective brain" comes into
existence and fosters cultural evolution.<

I suspect Bill, you are on the right lines. A small change enables such a=

'good trick' in 'design space' that positive feedback taskes over and the=

rest is history [rather like the multi-cell 'trick']. What might be the
confluence of conditions that made that trick possible. Possible

Language sensitive brains in a species with manipulative limbs [sorry
Dolphins etc]

A poly-amorous sexual regime [I recall mention of research which showed
song diversity correlated with 'mate diversity' in song-birds but have no=

reference to cite.

Potassium level in a particular primate brain [Elaine Morgan in the aguat=
ape hyptothesis posits potassium derived from shellfish in the diet as a
factor in homo sapiens evolution].

I have no problem envisaging a combination of these and/or who knows what=

else releasing an evolutionary bloom into the world - probably the bigges=
for 600 million years. The apogee of that bloom [maximum number of
languages on the planet] was probably reached about 200 to 500 years ago=

[last vestiges of inaccessible polynesia occupied]. We are now living
through an accelerating 'lock in' of language space to a few dominant
strains. Languages are going extinct at least as fast as species. This
rythm of diversity followed by progressive concentration on the 'fittest'=

or 'luckiest' strikes me as one of evoluion's dynamics [read Wonderful

If Price

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