Re: Human Language. (long post)

Thomas Clarke (
6 Jan 1997 13:18:54 GMT

In article <> Phillip Bigelow <> writes:
>Thomas Clarke wrote:

>There is no standard plan vocal tract in aquatic animals (see below).

>Tom Clarke wrote:
>> Aquatic animals (think of pigs)

>Pigs are not aquatic animals, and paleontologically, there is no
>evidence that this clade was even semi-aquatic.

Anecdotally, I have seen lots of pigs enjoying themselves immensely
in water. They are not swimmers like otters, admittedly.
What word should I use "hyrdophilic"? "aquatropic"? for animals
that have an affinity for living at water margins?

>> In addition, "otters, beavers, seals, sea lions, walruses, dugongs,
>> and manatees" etc tend to have a respiratory tract like that of humans.

>Wrong. As for the lutrines, they have the conventional carnivoran
>laryngeal/pharyngeal morphology. Beavers have the typical rodent
>lar/phar morphology. Only SOME pinnipeds have a superio-inferiorly-
>"relaxed" lar/phar morphology, which is NOT as similar to
>the human descended structure as some believe. MOST pinnipeds
>have a modified lar/phar structure that is different from land
>arctoids, but it is more similar to land arctoids than it is
>to humans.

There you go with the big words again. Michael McBroom sent me
some references - don't have them to hand - which I haven't had
a chance to check out yet - I hope they have pictures, my latin is
pretty rusty. Seriously, if you want to educate lurkers who aren't
experts of the falsity of the points you are addressing, you might
attempt to use less technical vocabulary.

>Manatees have a laryngeal/pharyngeal structure that is different
>from BOTH humans AND pinnipeds.
>There is no definative "aquatic" larygeal/pharyngeal structure
>common to aquatic or semi-aquatic animals to base such a claim on.

OK. Actually, I don't really think that the human lar/phar morphology
evolved 5 million years ago anyway. What evolutionary good would it
have served in the 4+ million period when hominids didn't have language?
As I said in my post, I didn't want to open this can of worms - I just
wanted to point out that humans were not the only species with a variant
lar/phar morphology.

>> I find Morgan's ideas interesting. For a more complete account see
>> William Calvin's web page

>And for a counter-argument, I am sure that Tom would heartily
>recommend this URL:


Fair enough, but Calvin writes better (and has a PhD :-)
Where is Jim Moore lately anyway?

>I know that Tom, as well as I, like to analyze both sides of this

Actually, there are probably at least seven sides.

Tom Clarke