Memes, Biology, Language.

kenmce (
Tue, 30 Sep 1997 13:57:40 -0500

Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 13:57:40 -0500
From: kenmce <>
Subject: Memes, Biology, Language.

Mark Mills <> Wrote:

Ken McE wrote the indented text:

The big question of the day was the notion of a linguistic 'critical =
age.' The issue had just become a public debate when Genie emerged =
from her dungeon. According to the hypothesis, once an individual =
passes the 'critical age,' they cannot 'learn' the skill, in this =
case language. Genie was 13 and at the onset of puberty, the =
hypothesized linguistic 'critical age.' The scientists hoped to =
prove the 'critical age' notion wrong and worked diligently to teach =
her language.

I thought that critical age had long since been accepted
linguists, and that the window of opportunity closed around age
six. Thirteen was much too late.

Puberty was the critical age for syntax acquisition in the Genie book.
Perhaps someone else has a better answer.

They failed and Rymer explores the failure from a host of angles, but =
returned again and again to the critical age issue. It looks like =
the 'critical age' hypothesis is accurate, EEG research on how the =
deaf learn language seems to independently confirm it.

I hadn't heard about the EEG research. What'd they find?

The key work was with deaf children. In brief, some children are
to a fully symbolic sign system (sign language) at birth, others much
later, a few after puberty. The discovery was that the early learners
sign language are training the left side of the brain, the same part of
the brain trained by the average auditory learner. After puberty, a
language learner is training the right side of the brain, the area
generally associated with visual learning.

It turned out to be an age thing. After puberty, there is no way to
'train' the area of brain generally associated with language. I'm 46, I
can't learn language like a 1 year old. No big surprise.

In memetic terms, Genie could not replicate linguistic memes because her
brain had fixed itself in circuits which ignored critical aspects of
memetic replication processes.

Perfect immunity to linguistic memes. How about non linguistic

The borderlines of language are surprisingly vague. The autistic person
is generally very weak in understanding body-language and auditory
language. Take out body language and the variety of non-linguistic
may be small... at least in terms of the human experience.

There are probably a wide number of memetic critical ages.

I smell truth in here. Research papers, anyone?

It seems any memetic process is highly constrained by biological =
foundations, but equally reliant upon cultural continuity. The =
fabric woven by genetic and memetic threads is inseparable.

If they are inseperable then this newsgroup would be
a waste of time, No?

I don't see a problem. Is the point of the discussion proving memes and
biology are independent?

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