Re: Crossing the language threshold was Re: First Language

Marty Stoneman (
31 Aug 1995 23:14:02 GMT

Ralph T. Edwards ( wrote:

: This seems more like differing category boundaries than truly differing
: categories. But it raises an interesting question that I confess I'm
: ignorant
: of, to what extent are word categories universals? Do all languages have
: categories corresponding to words (or subwords) of the follwoing types?

: lion
: water
: run
: big
: fast (adv.)
: in (or corresponding inflection)

: and whatever else you want. (all picked for likelihood of inclusion in an
: primitive vocabulary.)

Based upon the only theoretical work in computers that I know of in
finding a machine language to which one could "attach" natural language
(at Anthrobotics, never published nor peer reviewed) in a "semantical"
way, the answer will be "yes, in all natural languages, because of the
required nature of the underlying systems....."


: I think we're talking about two different things. I'm talking about
: the point at which humans first acquired speech and the brain, vocal tract,
: perhaps auditory adaptations to support it.
: I presume that this was more than 100,000 years ago.
: I don't presume anything about whether there were one or multiple
: origins, and looking at current language won't tell us anything about
: whether there were one or many origins 200,000 years ago. I did express an
: opinion that one origin seemed simpler. That's an OPINION not a assumption.

: When I say merged, I'm implying that current physical adaptations for
: speech are a common attribute of modern humans that either had one origin,
: or resulted from the merger of multiple origins. If there was one origin
: for the physical adaptations it implies to me one origin for the cultural
: aspect of language as well, if you know what I mean (the software as opposed
: to the hardware). I don't assume one or multiple origins.

Throwing in my 2 cents worth to the argument of origins of speech
in this thread, I believe that the huge brain growth in humans occurred
prior to Homo Sapiens, and I believe that most of the difference today
between chimp and us is in areas for language. So, if any of those in
this thread propose that Neanderthal had no language, what were the
evolutionary factors involved in the big brain and what does Homo Sapiens
not do that Neanderthal did?

Marty Stoneman