Re: Human language (long)

John A. Halloran (
21 Jan 1997 12:19:02 -0700

In article <> (Gregoire) writes:
>Apparently, the passive voice--not centered in the self as chief
>controller of events--was common in many tribal languages (like Dakota)
>[see Werner M€ller,
>"The 'Passivity' of Language amd the Experience of Nature: A Study in the
>Structure of the Primitive Mind" (1968). It's old and but one example.]

Thanks for the reference - by passive voice do you mean the same as the
ergative construction? In an ergative language, instead of saying 'John rolls
the ball down the hill' where John is marked as the subject as in an
accusative language, one says in effect 'John causes the ball to roll down the
hill', where the ball is marked as the subject and John is just a causative

>It does reveal that *specific* structures are not "wired in" to the brain,
>but some sort of linguistic intuition for minute categorizing must be.
>Certainly there is no prewiring for self-recognition, a vital point I
>would think. Language, thought, and consciousness (as we know it) must
>always (it appears) be relational. (Though a few thousand years of such
>relations would no doubt prepare a neonate mind for such input. Some
>research indicates that expanded areas of the brain use neurons formerly
>employed for vision in prelinguistic primates for langauge. Do you see
>what I'm saying?)

>Greg Nixon <>

Are you talking about the correlate to Wernicke's area in primates (at the
juncture of the temporal lobe and the parietal lobe), or some visual
association area adjacent to or part of the occipital cortex?

Would you expand on what you mean by 'relational'?


John Halloran