Tag Archives: language

The utter relativism of definitions

I’m always surprised how contentious definitions, can be.  How opinions about what are essentially sounds in language become matters of intense debate. When the IAU (International Astronomical Union) redefined the word “planet” to exclude Pluto, which came about due to … Continue reading

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Steven Pinker: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon

I listened to this Point of Inquiry podcast at lunch today, and thought many of you might find it interesting: Steven Pinker: Using Grammar as a Tool, Not as a Weapon | Point of Inquiry. The English language is often treated … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 52 Comments

Chimpanzees have language

I’ve read in several places that language is the last uniquely human characteristic.  Well, it turns out chimps communicate with a language of gestures: Researchers Translate the Meaning of Over 60 Gestures Used by Chimps. In the first systematic study of a … Continue reading

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The ages of communication

I think I’ve mentioned before that I only recently came the realization that the scientific revolution was more a matter of increased communication than necessarily a breakthrough in method.  Along the lines of this realization, I have a few thoughts about … Continue reading

Posted in History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Language structure: You’re born with it — ScienceDaily

More evidence that we are not born blank slates, and that language is probably very ancient, developing over hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years. Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study shows … Continue reading

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Talking Neanderthals challenge the origins of speech

I’ve posted before about how I think that language is very ancient, probably evolving over hundreds of thousands of years, possibly millions.  The evidence for this view continues to mount.  It now looks like there’s stronger evidence that Neanderthals could … Continue reading

Posted in Zeitgeist | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments