Miscellany (General)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, September 01, 2021, 20:52 (51 days ago) @ dhw

Part Two

How children pick up a language
dhw: Firstly, you have obviously never tried to teach your language to mature foreign students. Syntax is every bit as difficult as accent. Secondly, the problems with feral children have been well documented:

Introduction: The Ape Man and Other Feral Children

"Occasionally throughout our history, civilized society has come across a "wild child" who has grown up in isolation with virtually no human contact. Many researchers believe that we're born with the principles of language, but if a first language isn't acquired by puberty it may be too late -- we just don't have the neurological development. It also appears that there's a particular period in the life of humans when they're ripe for learning languages. Studies of feral children who have had little contact with humans during the critical ages of one through four years show that they've had tremendous difficulty mastering language and reintegrating with humans."

DAVID: Thank you for this fascinating material. I knew you taught English. The bold is the key. Infant brains are special and fit the theories about built-in syntax, etc. Feral children lose this mechanism if not used is the resultant theory I see.

dhw: All animals have a “mechanism” that enables them to copy the forms of behaviour and communication to which they are exposed. It is clear from the cases of feral children that once this mechanism has been used in one way, it becomes increasingly difficult for the child to adapt to another way. Are you suggesting, then, that the feral child’s brain is “hard-wired” for wolf language? Of course you’re not. The child copies, and once the brain has adjusted to what it copies, it becomes increasingly difficult to copy something else. Good, solid evidence that the brain is NOT hard-wired for syntax.

If you are correct, it is counter to today's linguist theories. I can only read the opinions along with yours


QUOTES: "Some wild cockatoos whittle tree branches into utensils that they use to open and dig into the seed-laden pits, or stones, of tropical fruit.” “
“They definitely knew the fruit, and they knew what to do with it,” says O’Hara.

dhw: Thank you yet again for another natural wonder. It’s always fascinating to learn just how intelligent our fellow creatures are as they seek or even invent different means of survival. And it’s easy to see how we humans once followed in their footsteps, although of course we have now raced infinitely far ahead of them.

Because our amazing brains appeared fo n o good natural reason. Cockatoos are like corvids and why not?

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