University of Gjirokastra (ALBANIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2010 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Pages: 1674-1680
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain
So far we have been discussing changes in the languages of people’s grammars over the course of time, changes in phonotypical properties. Languages change from generation to generation, and some language change is a function of change in grammars, but none of this represents biological innovation. The issues which arise in work on phonotypical change are different from those which arise in asking how genotypic systems might change.
Written and spoken English are similar but not exactly the same.
In asking how the language faculty may have evolved in the species, we are faced with some immediate problems. First, there is no useful comparative data from other species with some form of “primitive language”, as we have noted. Second, we have no real substantive data on the neural architecture which sub serves the operation of our grammars, at least not beyond very gross notions ( unenlightening so far, for our purposes) about brain localization; in fact, this point is true of all cognition, except for some aspects of low-level vision. People “listen” to what texts say, discuss with other readers the meanings they find, and “talk back” to those texts by writing (and revising) their responses to the ideas they encounter. You take a chance when you read. You risk an encounter with another person’s ideas and experiences, and you may not be the same when you are finished. Paying close attention to someone’s words is an act of respect and a form of inquiry, a way of taking the world seriously. When you think about the ways a writer’s words relate to what you know of the world, you take your own ideas and experiences seriously too. There is no telling where that inquiry might lead and whose ideas might be challenged in the process. Everything is up for grabs, then , when you think about what you read, and that is the power, and the risk, of the encounter. Reading like that can change a person.
Language is used chaotically, and no two people say and hear the same things. In particular, no two children step into the same river in the same way, and they do not hear the same things. Often this makes no real difference, because there is flexibility in the system. Children differ in their early experience, but they may nonetheless grow up with essentially the same mature capacity. It is true that no two people speak exactly the same way; we often know in a split second who is on the other end of the telephone, because a person’s language is as distinctive as their thumbprint. But people raised in the same speech community often end up talking pretty much the same way.
The study of language is still in its infancy, and many of our ideas are quite crude. Yet certain things are now understand well, better than in the nineteenth century. Other things are within range of being understood, and we can gain more insight; and other intriguing things cannot be thought about very usefully at present and are now beyond our reach.
Science is the most cooperative of enterprises, and nothing is entirely new. Indeed, several aspects of what we think of as the Chomskyan shift were anticipated by nineteenth-century writers. Some people who are not professional linguists have taken the trouble to read drafts of some chapters with their no specialist spectacles : Sari Hornstein, Richard Price, Felice Sacks and Elizabeth Wallace.
Language-development, acquisition, written language, Spoken-language, language evolution.