language and humans

Ania Lian (ania@LINGUA.CLTR.UQ.OZ.AU)
Wed, 11 Jan 1995 09:18:27 +1000

I would like to forward a mail sent to a language teachers' list and if
anybody is willing to reply to it in some greater detail, please mail the
slart language list directly or me and I will forward the mail.


>From Wed Jan 11 09:14:52 1995
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From: Carolyn G Fidelman <cgf@AGORALANG.COM>
Subject: Re: In search of the origin
To: Multiple recipients of list SLART-L <SLART-L@CUNYVM.CUNY.EDU>
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On Sun, 8 Jan 1995, Becky Lentz wrote:

> Carolyn - was this the program that started out with discussion of the
> Tower of Babel? If so, I saw it. Thought it was interesting. Becky
Yes it was. Someone has written back to me privately to inform me that
there are two schools of thinking about the origin of language, the
formalists and the functionalists. (Greg? sorry I flushed the message by
mistake). In any case, formalists believe there was one genetic line of
hominids that developed language, and that is the premise of this show as
well. Functionalists believe that it is a function of cognition and that
it could have arisen independently in the different human species that
evolved and suceeded in evolution. I, personally, would go with the
latter as I find it hard to believe that there was only one group of
hominids that developped langauge and then that group spread so vastly
over the world and diverged so greatly as to evolve the different races
exisiting today.


Carolyn G. Fidelman
Adjunct Research Associate
Modern Language Department
360 Holmes Hall
Northeastern University
Boston, MA 02115