Re: [PALEO,LING] ] Re: Language, gesture, etc.

thomas w kavanagh (tkavanag@INDIANA.EDU)
Thu, 15 Feb 1996 20:31:00 -0500

There is still a use for Material Culture studies in Anthropology.

At some time Ralph wrote:

> > To me, those stone tools do have
> > "grammar", that is, regularities of sensorimotor, perceptual, and
> > conceptual operations that maintain a certain invariant structure not
> > totally dictated by the form of the original stone material prior to
> > fabrication.

In reply On Fri, 16 Feb 1996 [that's tomorrow folks], Danny Yee wrote:
> It still seems a long way from the sophistication of "real" grammar.
> The number of possible tool forms seems limited (and is certainly finite),
> for example, unlike the productivity of human language.

Ach, Danny me boyyo, we live in an industrial world; today the material
world is mere boilerplate. Think back on the individual primary craftsman's
world {the perosn who makes the tools that do the work}: have ye ever
tried to catalog the tools in a blacksmith's shop [We have one here]. Here
is a primary craftsman who, if he ain't got the tool, he makes one. He has
an order for a particularly angled brace; to make the brace he needs to
hold the bars in place; to holds the bars in place he makes a tool. Now it
may be a pair of specifically angled tongs, and we, following Chenhall
call them tongs. But they are the unique products of the blacksmith taking
the syntactical materials at hand, angle irons, hammers, forges, and
following the grammar of how braces are built, solders, welds, and bends
them to produce a totally new material sentence. It may be slower than
language, but it is no less grammatical.