Evolution of Language

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Feb 3, 2002.

  1. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    HELEN
    Radiochemist brought up the following on “Haldane’s Dilemma”, which I
    would like to use to start a new thread:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> The unusual success of the human species can be explained in
    terms
    of ancient mutations that led to speech and
    the ability to transfer
    knowledge between generations. Man is far more
    successful at that
    than other animals. Therefore it seems that
    these ancient mutations
    are turning out to be far more important than
    any recent mutations
    that may have produced physical problems. Our
    well being is still
    being influenced by these old beneficial
    mutations and this effect
    is likely to continue for several thousand
    years into the future,
    with effects that far outweigh the effects of
    other mutations. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    Perhaps radiochemist knows something Norm Chomsky doesn’t? In his
    Commencement Remarks to the graduating class at the University of
    Connecticutt in May, 1999, Chomsky stated:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> For the present, the study of language and other higher human
    mental faculties is proceeding much as chemistry did, seeking to
    "establish a rich body of doctrine," and sometimes succeeding, with an
    eye to eventual unification, but without any clear idea of how this
    might take place. Some of these bodies of doctrine are rather surprising
    in their implications. Thus in the case of language, very recent work,
    some of the most important of it conducted here, is providing
    interesting grounds for taking seriously an idea that a few years ago
    would have seemed outlandish: that the language organ of the brain
    approaches a kind of optimal design, that it is in some interesting
    sense an optimal solution to the minimum design specifications the
    language organ must meet to be usable at all.

    That is not what one expects to find in a highly complex biological
    organ.
    http://www.news.uconn.edu/chomspch.htm
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    All known human languages, past and present, are complex, grammatical,
    and involve abstract concepts. There is a vast gulf between animal
    communication and human language. They are not even comparable.
    Despite the fact that evolution is assumed, there is no method known by
    which human language evolved. Every bit of data available indicates it
    seems to have appeared full-blown.

    (And when one listens to speaking today, there is a good argument that
    it is going downhill, and perhaps rapidly! :D)
     
  2. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    RADIOCHEMIST

    Helen:
    "All known human languages, past and present, are complex, grammatical,
    and involve abstract concepts. There is a vast gulf between animal
    communication and human language. They are not even comparable.
    Despite the fact that evolution is assumed, there is no method known by
    which human language evolved. Every bit of data available indicates it
    seems to have appeared full-blown."



    Helen, I think you are ignoring overwhelming evidence that language
    has evolved during the last few thousand years and is even evolving
    today. English, for example, has evolved tremendously since the
    time of Shakespeare. We can appreciate Shakespeare to a certain
    extent, but it is obvious that he spoke a slightly different
    langauge than we speak now. If you read the English even farther
    back in time, say around 1,000 years ago, it is a much different
    language than ours and finally if you go back far enough it is
    no longer recognizable as English. Now if that is NOT evolution,
    what is it? I agree that all known languages are complex,
    grammatical, etc. So what? We are only looking at languages
    many thousands of years after they first developed, so that
    is exactly what is to be expected. The evolution of language
    is very real and we can see it even today. How can you deny
    it?

    RADIOCHEMIST
     
  3. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    PATRICK PARSON

    Actually, there is evidence for the evolution of language. We have the case
    of apes, who can both empathize (infer mental states in others that would
    make speech useful) and exhibit a very primitive ability to use language.
    Supporting this is the recent work on ape neurology, showing that both
    Broca's and Warnicke's areas are present in their brains. There is still
    much work to do, but the area corresponding to human Broca's area shows the
    same lateralization that is important for human speech.

    While we cannot know for sure if this represents convergent evolution, or a
    primitive potential for speech in the last common ancestor, it certainly is
    evidence for the evolution of language.
     
  4. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    RUFUSATTICUS

    Helen,

    You've touched on an aspect near and dear to my heart: Evolution of
    Language. I plan on working on the evolution of language after I graduate
    (hopefully, as a post-doc). I am currently reading as much literature as I
    can. I am still trying to decide whether I will go to "Evolution of
    Language: Fourth International Conference" next month at Harvard. If you
    are interested, I can forward you an email with the specs.

    In my research, these are the two best review articles that I have found.

    Michael P.H. Stumpf "Language's place in nature" Trends in Ecology &
    Evolution, 2001, 16:9:475-476
    Abstract:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Human language has enabled our species to exchange information and to
    formulate ideas; understanding how human linguistic faculties evolved is one
    of the great challenges in evolutionary theory. Studies of the evolution of
    human language can be broadly separated into two types of approaches: those
    that consider the (e.g. phylogenetic) relationships between existing
    languages and their common ancestors; and those that try to understand the
    evolution of the human language capacity itself. For the latter case, Martin
    Nowak and co-workers have now shown that evolutionary game theory provides a
    framework in which the evolution of linguistic elements, such as word
    formation and syntax, can be investigated. These recent studies show that
    natural selection will favour the evolution of such 'human' linguistic
    elements from simple animal communication if they enable more reliable
    exchange of relevant, that is fitness-enhancing, information.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Martin A. Nowak "Evolutionary biology of language" Philos Trans R Soc Lond B
    Biol Sci 2000 Nov 29;355(1403):1615-22
    Abstract:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Language is the most important evolutionary invention of the last
    few million years. It was an adaptation that helped our species to exchange
    information, make plans, express new ideas and totally change the appearance
    of the planet. How human language evolved from animal communication is one
    of the most challenging questions for evolutionary biology The aim of this
    paper is to outline the major principles that guided language evolution in
    terms of mathematical models of evolutionary dynamics and game theory. I
    will discuss how natural selection can lead to the emergence of arbitrary
    signs, the formation of words and syntactic communication.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    If you read those two papers, then you will understand that there are known
    methods for the evolution of the complexities of language. Furthermore, as
    those papers (and their references) reveal, human language, although unique,
    is actually very comparable to both other forms of primate
    communication. Studies have shown that primate gesture communication does
    share similarities with human language. This is corroborated by a recent
    study showing similar brain physiology in humans and apes related to
    language and gesture production.

    Cantalupo C & Hopkins WD "Asymmetric Broca's area in great apes." Nature
    2001 Nov 29;414(6863):505

    Abstract:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR> Brodmann's area 44 delineates part of Broca's area within the
    inferior frontal gyrus of the human brain and is a critical region for
    speech production, being larger in the left hemisphere than in the right -
    an asymmetry that has been correlated with language dominance. Here we show
    that there is a similar asymmetry in this area, also with left-hemisphere
    dominance, in three great ape species (Pan troglodytes, Pan paniscus and
    Gorilla gorilla). Our findings suggest that the neuroanatomical substrates
    for left-hemisphere dominance in speech production were evident at least
    five million years ago and are not unique to hominid evolution.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    So, Helen, your statements are wrong and do not reflect the actual progress
    of science.

    -RvFvS
     
  5. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    RADIOCHEMIST

    Helen: "Despite the fact that evolution is assumed, there is no method
    known by which human language evolved."



    How about by the addition of words? In my lifetime, many words have
    been added to English. Here is a list of a few, just off the top of
    my head. Fax, modem, Sputnik, cosmonaut, smog. In fact, hundreds of
    new words are being added each year. Here is a reference
    from the Internet of a more organized attempt to see how the language
    changes:

    "This periodical is a quarterly update for the growing record of
    English vocabulary as recorded in general dictionaries. The Barnhart
    Dictionary Companion provides approximately 1,500 new words, new
    meanings, and changes in usage each year. Entries include definitions,
    quotations, usage statements and etymological background. The journal
    is edited by David K. Barnhart and is available in print form by
    subscription from Lexik House Publishers."

    Now Helen, a question for you. Do you really want to argue that all
    languages took their present form at the time of the Tower of Babel
    and have not changed since? I don't think you want to go down that
    road. But if not, how can you seriously say that "..there is no method
    by which language evolved".
     
  6. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    RADIOCHEMIST

    The biblical story of the Tower of Babel has some parallels with
    the argument for and aganist evolution. On another thread, Helen
    denies that languages evolve at all. Being a biblical literalist,
    I assume that she believes that the confusion of languages accounts
    for much, and perhaps all of the obvious differences between
    languages. Helen also asserts (amazingly) that there is no known
    mechanism by which languages evolve. It is remarkable that she
    claims this, since it is quite easy to show how languages have
    changed in the last 2,000 years. Not long ago, I was on the island
    of Cyprus and viewed some ancient Greek mosaics, with writing
    in the early Greek language and Greek alphabet. I asked the
    guide of the present generation of Greeks can read these
    writings and she said they cannot. In English there are some
    examples of early English from 1,000 years ago, and these cannot
    be understood except by specialists in early English.
    I invite anyone here to comment on whether or not languages
    still evolve. I especially invite Helen to repeat her claim
    that languages do not evolve, in view of these examples.

    The evolution of languages can be considered to be very
    similar to the evolution of organisms, with the gradual
    buildup of small differences that eventually make a great
    deal of difference and transform the language into something
    substantially different. Of course the writers of the
    story of the Tower of Babel did not have the advantage
    of a long history that would allow them to correctly
    deduce the true origin of language differences, so they
    came up with the best theory they could find under the
    circumstances, just as the creation myth appeared to be
    an adequate explanation at the time Genesis was written
     
  7. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    HELEILU

    I think two different topics are being lumped together as "evolution of language". First, the ultimate origin of language, and second, change in language.

    About the reality of the second, there can be no possible doubt. As Radiochemist noted, English is constantly changing, and books written 700 years ago require special study to read today. If you need further proof, look at a passage in Latin and its translations into French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. If that isn't evidence of linguistic evolution, nothing is.

    Now, the ultimate origin of language is unknown. There are no linguistic "fossils" older than writing, the comparative method gives no dates, and glottochronology breaks down around 8000 BCE even according to its advocates. If some form of language first "evolved" five hundred thousand or a million years ago, its only remaining traces would be linguistic universals. Linguistic universals themselves are only fuzzily known, and I don't know if anyone has any solid explanation for their existence. The "language organ" of Chomsky is very controversial; a refutation of the idea is at http://www.zompist.com/langorg.htm

    If you want a different perspective on the genesis of language, check out http://www.sumerian.org/prot-sum.htm

    An amazing amount of garbage has been written about Sumerian, and Halloran's methodology seems suspicious to me. However, it offers an alternative to monogenesis.
     
  8. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    [Administrator: Helen sent this in two days ago, and either the post did not go through or landed in the wrong thread. If anyone finds it, please notify us to erase it from where it doesn't belong. Thank you!]

    HELEN
    Radiochemist, I think you have misunderstood the point I was making
    entirely. I am not talking about the changes in languages once there
    are ‘here,’ but of how human language emerged, if that is what it did,
    in the first place. Believe me, after having so many teens in my life
    for so long, I KNOW language changes! Sometimes from day to day…!
    But new words or new phrases or assimilated words or phrases is not what
    I am talking about. What I am talking about is the bridge evolution
    claims to have existed between simple animal communication and abstract
    human language. There truly is a gulf there.


    Pat, dogs can infer mental states of their owners quite accurately.
    Sam will try to ‘talk’ to me at the end of the day, with a sort of
    moaning which varies in pitch. He is very satisfied with himself when
    he does this, or so it seems to me. However his brain does not have the
    Broca’s or Warnicke’s areas, does it?

    We also know that all kinds of brain damage can occur but that the
    person is still a complete and functioning mind behind it. This leaves
    us with the distinct possibility that it is not the brain which
    determines the communication, but the soul, or nephesh, in back of it,
    and that the brain is only the channel which expresses the communication
    in the physical world. If this is the case, then human language has
    little or nothing to do with the brain itself, but is only using the
    brain in much the same way as I am using this computer to communicate.
    If this is the case, then in the same way you could sit a chimp down
    here to bang on the keys, and get nothing but maybe a broken keyboard,
    you can find all sorts of ‘proper areas’ in the chimp’s brain which are
    associated with language expression, and yet never have a clue regarding
    where the language itself actually came from.

    So no, I disagree that this is evidence for evolution.

    But Pat, I am curious. You go with science and evolution everytime.
    Now the Bible says God created man in His image. Don’t you at least
    think this might – just MIGHT – include human language and the ability
    to communicate abstract thoughts using abstract symbols?


    Rufus: I would be fascinated to attend that conference. Unfortunately,
    I am all the way across the county, which means more money to travel
    than I have available. And, secondly, we will be presenting in southern
    California a week later and be in New Zealand for more of the same a few
    weeks after that, then on to Australia and then home again. So right
    now, staying home is prized time. Which works in well with the budget
    available to travel! However if there is a list of abstracts or
    something along those lines, I would be very interested in it.
    [email protected] (Verio sold the dial-ups to earthlink so I
    got a new email address.)

    Looking at Stumpf’s quote first – he is relying on game theory which may
    be adequate for simply putting parts together, but is not adequate to
    explain the abstractness of human communication. Simply stringing
    elements together is not the same as a functioning language any more
    than stringing elements and molecules together can produce a living
    cell. I would also argue that the concept of ‘ought’ and the attendant
    sense of guilt we all experience because of it at some time or another
    is a hindrance to simple natural survival. We fight over IDEAS. We
    fight over what we think is right or wrong. Where did THAT come from –
    and could it have been communicated in the first place without
    language? In other words, I see too many problems with Stumpf’s game
    theory idea. That works fine for stochastic information or elements.
    It does not work for function.

    I read Nowak’s article when it came out. Look at the first sentence you
    quote: “Language is the most important evolutionary invention of the
    last few million years.” Language is an invention? Doesn’t that
    require an inventor? He also is relying on mathematics and game
    theory. This does not work for a functioning system, which language
    most certainly is.

    And, with both authors, language is presumed to have evolved, so
    naturally any conclusions they draw or ideas they put forward will agree
    with that presupposition. It’s a merry-go-round.

    However a good many of us don’t believe language evolved at all, and
    that the invention did truly have an Inventor.

    [ February 07, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
  9. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    PATRICK PARSON

    Helen:
    Radiochemist, I think you have misunderstood the point I was making
    entirely. I am not talking about the changes in languages once there
    are ‘here,’ but of how human language emerged, if that is what it did,
    in the first place. Believe me, after having so many teens in my life
    for so long, I KNOW language changes! Sometimes from day to day…!
    But new words or new phrases or assimilated words or phrases is not what
    I am talking about. What I am talking about is the bridge evolution
    claims to have existed between simple animal communication and abstract
    human language. There truly is a gulf there.

    Pat, dogs can infer mental states of their owners quite accurately.


    Nope. So far, only apes and humans have been shown to do that. What Sam
    is doing is picking up signals from you. I'm told that dogs try to
    vocalize in imitation of humans, but this is merely imitation. They don't
    know you have mental states at all. On the other hand, humans and apes do
    know this, and act on it in ways other animals cannot. Monkeys, for
    example, cannot do it.


    We also know that all kinds of brain damage can occur but that the
    person is still a complete and functioning mind behind it. This leaves
    us with the distinct possibility that it is not the brain which
    determines the communication, but the soul, or nephesh, in back of it,
    and that the brain is only the channel which expresses the communication
    in the physical world.


    You might pick up Oliver Sack's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat".
    He discusses various neural deficits. Sacks is a neurologist, but a
    very caring and humane one, who sees patients as people. He comments on a
    patient who has lost all short-term memory, and continues to live in the
    1940s. He brings up just the point that you do, with the nuns who care for
    the man. It is a difficult and vexing question, something that can be
    approached with some objectivity. Check it out.


    If this is the case, then human language has little or nothing to do with
    the brain itself, but is only using the brain in much the same way as I am
    using this computer to communicate.


    Turns out that damage to the appropriate center causes specific language
    deficits. Some are amazingly specific, such as the man who could identify,
    but not name vegetables after a stroke.(he had no trouble naming anything
    else so far as the researchers could tell) There seems to be no magical
    connection; just nature. But do you feel less the creature of God because
    he used nature to make you? Why would it bother you so to have your mind
    also created by natural means? The soul is not the mind after all,
    something the nuns reminded Sacks.


    If this is the case, then in the same way you could sit a chimp down
    here to bang on the keys, and get nothing but maybe a broken keyboard,
    you can find all sorts of ‘proper areas’ in the chimp’s brain which are
    associated with language expression, and yet never have a clue regarding
    where the language itself actually came from.


    The fact that these areas are associated in chimps with communication is
    sufficient evidence to be confident that there is a relationship. How
    extensive that relationship is, that remains to be seen.
    So no, I disagree that this is evidence for evolution.


    But Pat, I am curious. You go with science and evolution everytime.


    For nature, science works exceptionally well. But for other things, I
    have other ways of knowing. So do we all, if we just use them.


    Now the Bible says God created man in His image. Don’t you at least
    think this might – just MIGHT – include human language


    Do I think God has a mouth and tongue, and lips, and speaks in some kind
    of ur-Indoeuropean? Nope. God's a spirit. He has no need of language,
    except in the rare case when there's some kind of miraculous intervention in
    human affairs on His part.


    and the ability to communicate abstract thoughts using abstract symbols?

    Welcome to theistic evolution. Our "likeness to God" is indeed in our
    ability to know good and evil and to empathize and make rational judgements.


    However a good many of us don’t believe language evolved at all, and
    that the invention did truly have an Inventor.


    We know that language evolves, because we have records of new languages
    evolving out of old ones. This is a given. How the first languages
    evolved is an open question at this time, but the evidence is starting to
    accumulate.
     
  10. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    BILLY

    Radiochemist said: English, for example, has evolved tremendously since the time of Shakespeare. We can appreciate Shakespeare to a certain extent, but it is obvious that he spoke a slightly different
    langauge than we speak now.


    Billy: Well, there are very few words in Shakespeare that are not in current use right now, and it doesn't really take much to understand Shakespeare if you know a bit about poetical expression, and lots of people use Shakespeare without realizing that they do. I reckon I can find a Shakespearean illusion somewhere in almost any publication.

    Shakespeare may have an analogy as a punctuation in the development of English. Over the hundreds of years since Shakespeare, there has been remarkably little change in English, though it should be taken into account that the English we now speak has its roots principally in the London English that was spoken at his time. There were very many dialects that have since died out. And there are still a few dialects that an American tourist would find incomprhensible.

    He continues: If you read the English even farther back in time, say around 1,000 years ago, it is a much different language than ours and finally if you go back far enough it is no longer recognizable as English.

    Billy: Actually, you only have to go back to Chaucer to find a language that requires a degree in English Literature to fully appreciate, and that was only a couple of hundred years before Bill. English has had a stasis since Shakespeare - yet another way that his Herculean influence has expressed itself. I do agree, however, that English at the time of William the Conqueror would make no sense to 99.99% of all English-speakers today.


    Now, If the British Empire had collapsed into chaos like the Roman Empire did, you would expect the languages, now isolated from their root, to change into dialets, then variants, then completely new languages, as happened with Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian.

    That’s the way evolution works. Waiting for someone to say "But they are all still languages!"

    But the British Empire did not collapse in that way, and its demise was accomanpied by a rise in the ability of Anglophones and others to communicate which was unparalleled in human history, thus reducing their isolation. Now we have a world where I would defy anyone to name a world capital where it is impossible to find a fluent Anglophone, or even a major city, or even a town where someone did not have a working ability in English.

    Now, does this make English better in any objective sense? Of course not. It was simply better suited to the changes in its environment that any other language.

    And that's a Darwinian concept to...
     
  11. Administrator2

    Administrator2
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,254
    Likes Received:
    0
    RUFUSATTICUS

    RufusAtticus
    Helen,

    I'll email you the latest email I got from the conference. I don't know if
    abstracts have been released yet.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>What I am talking about is the bridge evolution claims to have
    existed between simple animal communication and abstract human language.
    There truly is a gulf there.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Actually there isn't much of a gulf. Apes are capable of abstract
    communication using iconic gestures. See the following paper and the
    subsequent commentaries.

    Burling R, "Primate Calls, Human Language, and Nonverbal Communication."
    Current Anthropology: 34.1 (1993) 25-53

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>We also know that all kinds of brain damage can occur but that the
    person is still a complete and functioning mind behind it. This leaves us
    with the distinct possibility that it is not the brain which determines the
    communication, but the soul, or nephesh, in back of it, and that the brain
    is only the channel which expresses the communication
    in the physical world.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Logical fallacy. There is no reason to suspect that all brain damage
    will affect a persons linguistic ability. It's like saying "we know of
    brain damage that doesn't affect the right side of the body. Thus the right
    side of the body can't possibly be controlled by the brain." Your
    conclusion is a major leap, not supported by logic or evidence. In fact,
    there are well known cases of brain damage affecting linguistic skills.
    That is how we know that Broca's and Wernicke's areas are involved in
    language production. Damage in those areas causes some types of aphasia.
    Here's some information.
    http://www.aphasia.org/
    http://www.imssf.org/aphasia.htm


    So, you are wrong. Language ability is a product of the brain.


    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Looking at Stumpf's quote first<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    So you didn't actually read the paper? You critique the abstract and not
    the paper itself? It's not surprising then that your following comments are
    completely wrong.


    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>he is relying on game theory which may be adequate for simply putting
    parts together, but is not adequate to explain the abstractness of human
    communication.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    This is your first error. This paper by Stumpf is a review of recent work
    on the evolution of language, particularly Nowak's work. In other words, he
    is not making any arguments but summarizing the arguments of others.
    Methinks you don't know enough about game theory to make the above
    statement. Game Theory is not about "putting parts" together. It's about
    strategies employed in competitive games. You should read John Maynard
    Smith's book, Evolution and the Theory of Games. Considering that
    you have not read the literature, specifically Nowak's recent papers, your
    comment on the uselessness of game theory is unfounded. In fact, Stumpf
    summarizes very well how game theory is useful. You would understand
    this had you actually read the paper. I highly recommend that you do. It
    is a wonderful summery of the current state of the field.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Simply stringing elements together is not the same as a functioning
    language any more than stringing elements and molecules together can produce
    a living cell. I would also argue that the concept of 'ought' and the
    attendant sense of guilt we all experience because of it at some time or
    another is a hindrance to simple natural survival. We fight over IDEAS. We
    fight over what we think is right or wrong. Where did THAT come from - and
    could it have been communicated in the first place without language?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    What does this have to do with the origin of language? Maybe we didn't
    fight over ideas before we could communicate them. So what? I really don't
    see how this has any bearing on the evolution of language.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>In other words, I see too many problems with Stumpf's game theory
    idea.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    How can you have a problem with "Stumpf's game theory idea," considering
    that it's not his work but Nowak's.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I read Nowak's article when it came out.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I'm just wondering. Are you sure you read that article and not his
    papers in Science or Nature? I only ask because the one I cited occurred in
    a less popular, British journal. I suspect you might have come across one
    of his other, more common works.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Look at the first sentence you quote: "Language is the most important
    evolutionary invention of the last few million years." Language is an
    invention? Doesn't that require an inventor?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Please excuse the man for using a metaphor. You are an editor and should
    understand those things.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>He also is relying on mathematics and game theory. This does not work
    for a functioning system, which language most certainly is.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Wait! Are you complaining that his work is valueless since it is
    mathematical? Aren't you the one who is claiming in another thread that
    genetic load is very much real because it is a mathematical theory? Don't
    you also support your husband's work on c-decay, which is also mathematical
    in nature? It seems a little intellectually dishonest to complain about
    mathematical models when they disagree with you but embrace them when they
    don't. You can't have it both ways. Are models scientific or not?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>And, with both authors, language is presumed to have evolved, so
    naturally any conclusions they draw or ideas they put forward will agree
    with that presupposition. It's a merry-go-round.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hardly. Read the articles. The evidence is not presented to support the
    evolution of language. It is presented to explain how and why
    language evolved, thus no merry-go-round. There is much debate in science
    on the evolution of language. There is a major question on whether it is an
    adaptation or a spandrel. Pinkerton and Bloom address this question in
    "Natural Language and Natural Selection," Behavioral and Brain
    Sciences
    13 (4): 707-784 (1990).

    All evidence indicates that humans have
    evolved and there is no scientific debate on the accuracy of this claim.
    Science disproved special creation, as an explanation for our existence, a
    long time ago. There is no reason to suspect that language is a special
    case. There is even less reason after the game-theory studies by
    Nowak and his colleagues.

    Do you have any comments or questions about the content of the
    papers and not just the abstracts? What about the paper showing similarity
    among ape neural physiology, including human, in relationship to
    communication?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>However a good many of us don't believe language evolved at all, and
    that the invention did truly have an Inventor.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I can
    only assume that the above is a statement of faith and not of scientific
    inquiry. I'll have to go with science on this one. It's always been the
    more reliable.

    -RvFvS
     

Share This Page

Loading...