Language is the human ability to acquire and use complex systems of communication, and a language is any specific example of such a system. The scientific study of language is called linguistics.
The philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent experience, has been debated since Gorgias and Plato in Ancient Greece, with later thinkers such as Rousseau arguing that language came from emotions, while others like Kant held it came from logical thought. 20th-century philosophers such as Wittgenstein argued that philosophy is really the study of language. Major figures in linguistics include Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky.
Estimates of the number of languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000. However, any precise estimate depends on a partly arbitrary distinction between languages and dialects. Natural languages are spokenor signed, but any language can be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli – for example, in graphic writing, braille, or whistling. This is because human language is modality-independent. Depending on philosophical perspectives regarding the definition of language and meaning, when used as a general concept, “language” may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules.
added page via this tweet:
Real talk #oldaily http://t.co/sd4GftasZ2
There is no language instinct – yes, we have the capacity to learn a language, but what`s key here is that language is something that is learned, and not the basis for learning. …. We learn language the way we learn everything else: by observing examples of language being used, by imitation and practice, and finally, by reflection.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/oldaily/status/546794470159564800
‘Rules’ don’t get applied in indiscriminate jumps, as we would expect if there really was an innate blueprint for grammar. We seem to construct our language by spotting patterns in the linguistic behaviour we encounter, not by applying built-in rules. Over time, children slowly figure out how to apply the various categories they encounter. So while language acquisition might be uncannily quick, there isn’t much that’s automatic about it: it arises from a painstaking process of trial and error.
..cognitive neuroscience research from the past two decades or so has begun to lift the veil on where language is processed in the brain. The short answer is that it is everywhere. Once upon a time, a region known as Broca’s area was believed to be the brain’s language centre. We now know that it doesn’t exclusively deal with language – it’s involved in a raft of other, non-linguistic motor behaviours. And other aspects of linguistic knowledge and processing are implicated almost everywhere in the brain. While the human brain does exhibit specialisation for processing different genres of information, such as vision, there appears not to be a dedicated spot specialised just for language.
..the verbal problems always turn out to be rooted in something other than language.
Language is, after all, the paradigmatic example of co‑operative behaviour: it requires conventions – norms that are agreed within a community – and it can be deployed to co‑ordinate all the additional complex behaviours that the new niche demanded.
From this perspective, we don’t have to assume a special language instinct; we just need to look at the sorts of changes that made us who we are, the changes that paved the way for speech. This allows us to picture the emergence of language as a gradual process from many overlapping tendencies.
Children have far more sophisticated learning capacities than Chomsky foresaw. They are able to deploy sophisticated intention-recognition abilities from a young age, perhaps as early as nine months old, in order to begin to figure out the communicative purposes of the adults around them. And this is, ultimately, an outcome of our co‑operative minds. Which is not to belittle language: once it came into being, it allowed us to shape the world to our will – for better or for worse.
makes me think of the internet of haecitties and deep address ness and Chris – like could we get to that underlying element.. at least for global convos.. without it being all about tech translating for us. and not giving up local culture/language. et al..
and makes me wonder if the morphing could/will go to infinity to create unlimited idiosyncratic jargons.. if we want..
does a document everything.. and nothing.. ness get us there..? here:
convo mar 2015:
Chomsky & Krauss: An Origins Project Dialogue
led protest of vietnam war – and since been marginalized in media
talking of Noam and Richard (wrote a book about him)
Noam’s respect and generosity to people..
8 min – on looking forward to college – then finding out it was much the same
10 min – on persuasion as violence
teaching as a seduction..
16 min – similarity of chemistry and linguistics
18 min – 99% of use of language never even gets expressed – it’s internal – it takes a tremendous act of will – not to do what we call – talking to yourself
22 min – shift from external to internal.. observable to not so
24 min – when allowed self to be puzzled – (begin of modern science – 1950s) – realize you know nothing – rather than everything… when start asking what’s going on in the internal..
26 min – important thing about language is not communication.. not external but internal… traditional view – language used in formulating thought.. modern view – language evolved as instrument of communication –
28 min – animal and human communication systems differ radically; human language – free creative activity – can be used for communication but primarily just used for thinking – internally – design of language -..
externalization is kind of peripheral to language..
..core principles… how you construct/interpret thoughts.. the way it’s externalize doesn’t enter into that.. language is fundamentally – audible (or whatever sensory modality) thought..
30 min – huge literature on evolution of language – very curious – because subject doesn’t exist – languages change but they don’t evolve.. what evolves is the capacity for language – which is something in your head..
32 min – the capacity for language is virtually identical across all humans…
35 min – getting internal snowflake out of your mouth – very complicated process…
38 min – the ability to be puzzled about what you see – you don’t learn to have arms and legs – you’re designed that way
39 min – we don’t learn how to see – we are born with sight
42 min – susan curtiss – and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genie_%28feral_child%29
she was very clever – she was deceiving scientists that she was acquiring language
no studies on language, can study on sight – because our sight similar to animals we can study.. no other with language like ours
44 min – bee communication system
48 min – language and freedom – asked to write that article – which he has a lot to say about language and a lot to say about freedom – but not much to say about and
52 min – strong weight of evidence against pinker claims – ie: brian ferguson – one thing he said – in our lifetime – since enlightenment – there has been moral progress – at the same time – creation of device that could destroy us all
55 min – rousseau – unique about humans – internal creative capacity
56 min – any institutions that inhibit or constrain that free creative capacity are fundamentally illegitimate unless they can justify themselves…. any hierarchy – whatever – should be subject to challenge – they’re not self-justifying
dis\order as language problem.. mis\understanding..
disney therapy et al – as language
interesting – from Seth – april 2015
One reason we easily dismiss the astonishing things computers can do is that we know that they don’t carry around a narrative, a play by play, the noise in their head that’s actually (in our view) ‘intelligence.’
It turns out, though, that the narrative is a bug, not a feature. That narrative doesn’t help us perform better, it actually makes us less intelligent. Any athlete or world-class performer (in debate, dance or dungeonmastering) will tell you that they do their best work when they are so engaged that the narrative disappears.
I have no idea when our computer overlords will finally enslave us, but it won’t happen because we figured out a way to curse them with a chattering monkey.
i’m guessing this narrative he’s talking about – is the lizard brain.
but i’m also wondering – since i just finished listening to chomsky con mar 2015 above.. are we just not listening-to/understanding/embracing/using/freeing-up/grokking our natural/internal chatter. like – are we replacing a natural/needed chatter with an unnatural/chatterish chatter. ie: are we letting society dictate what chatter (talking to self) is, by imposing assumptions of what that chatter should be about.
i guess i’m wondering if the absence of chatter for people in the zone.. is really the absence of unnatural/imposed chatter. the absence of the chatter of the science of people.. ness
externalization is kind of peripheral to language..
What if the words we use to describe emotions limit our understanding of ourselves as much as using Roman numerals crippled European math?
Phytophile (@phytophilemusic) tweeted at 4:48 AM – 22 Sep 2016 :
@pigworker @leashless what about new languages? or perhaps this is why we have music, art, and other multimedia. (http://twitter.com/phytophilemusic/status/778908815337095168?s=17)
begs we embrace means we have today to let idio jargon approach limit of infinity…
means for 7bill.. new everyday ness..that io dance
New Scientist (@newscientist) tweeted at 5:12 AM – 5 Nov 2016 :
When politics fills the language gap, can science be neutral? https://t.co/5iWqXljLJZ https://t.co/kY5sY8V9a3(http://twitter.com/newscientist/status/794859839600136193?s=17)
WE ALL speak the same language, according to the linguist Noam Chomsky. A Martian scientist, he has observed, “might reasonably conclude that there is a single human language, with differences only at the margins”.
To Earthlings, however, such differences often look anything but marginal. For some, they are barriers to be overcome. But for many others, they are borders to control and identities to be kept apart.
In his new book Decoding Chomsky, Knight (who mounts his own critique from a position on the radical left) argues that Chomsky needed to deny any connection between his science and his politics in order to practise both while based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an institution that was heavily funded by the US military.
Language “is not properly regarded as a system of communication”, he declared. “It is a system for expressing thought, something quite different.” In this view of language, other people are peripheral. As far as Chomsky is concerned, says Knight, language “exists for talking to just one person – yourself“. Other workers in the field do not deny the social implications of their studies, but opt to leave them unspoken.
Trenchant and compelling as Knight’s critique of Chomsky is, few scientists would follow him all the way to his concluding vision of science united with revolutionary politics. But maybe it wouldn’t hurt for researchers to hint at their personal values. After all, as climate scientists know only too well, they will be suspected of bias however strictly they stick to the data.
Maria Popova (@brainpicker) tweeted at 6:57 AM – 16 Jan 2017 :
Mary Oliver on how books saved her life and why the passion for creative work is the greatest antidote to pain https://t.co/PMkz4jVUEx https://t.co/xroio4gz1V (http://twitter.com/brainpicker/status/820993479304159232?s=17)
I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.
I did not think of language as the means to self-description. I thought of it as the door — a thousand opening doors! — past myself. I thought of it as the means to notice, to contemplate, to praise, and, thus, to come into power.
You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.
fb share by Jon Husband:
<< The great Lewis Lapham:
“The internet is maybe the best and brightest machine ever made by man, blessed with a near-infinite expanse of miraculous application. Language is not yet one of them. Computers scan everything but hear nothing. Even if they knew where to find or how to make a cosmos best suited for human habitation, how would they send word of the discovery?
They know not who they are or what they do.
The strength of language doesn’t consist in its capacity to pin things down or sort things out. “Word-work,” said Toni Morrison, accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, “is sublime…because it is generative,” its felicity found in its reach toward the ineffable. “We die,” she said. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” Shakespeare shaped the same thought as a sonnet, comparing his beloved to a summer’s day, offering his rhymes as surety on the bond of immortality—“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see / So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”
Google can bring the news that E=mc2, but Google doesn’t know what E is. Doesn’t know that in the first of its many meanings, E is the mind of man (nature looking creatively back on itself) embarking on the voyages of discovery—Odysseus, great-hearted and wide-wandering on the wine-dark sea, Charles Darwin sailing for the enchanted islands in the Galápagos, Humboldt climbing Mount Chimborazo, Michelangelo reaching upward toward the horizon of the Sistine ceiling, deaf Beethoven directing the performance of his Ninth Symphony in Vienna in 1824, giving voice to the joy of learning that wonders never cease.” >>
The limitless expanse of human ignorance Rubin sees as the fortunate provocation that rouses out the love of learning, kindles the signal fires of the imagination. We have no other light with which to see and maybe to recognize ourselves as human.
what delights him are the dots going together across otherwise unbridged distances in space and time. ..The scrupulously repeated making of similar connections—between the here and now with the there and then
as diligently as Humboldt counts seeds and collects insects, and as rigorous his scientific methods of investigation, he believes that a great part of man’s response to the natural world must be based on the senses and the emotions. The sentiment places him in the vanguard of the nineteenth-century Romantic movement rising in objection to the Enlightenment view of the universe as a cleverly, if inexplicably, manufactured clock, its workings immutable and heartless, faithful in its service to the holders of property, the claimants of privilege, the custodians of bourgeois church and state and bank.
Unable to explain what prompted Planck to the discovery, Einstein finds “no logical bridge between phenomena and their theoretical principles,” only “intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience.”
finding in books the peace and security of membership in realities other than those confined to my experience
The reader creates the writer, the writer creates the reader; between them they construct a cosmos that suits them best, and by so doing they overcome, in Manguel’s words, “the obstacles of geography, the finality of death.” Their joint enterprise is the making of the two worlds we inhabit as human beings, one in the flesh, the other in mind. Man, says Thomas Carlyle, is symbol maker made conscious of himself as symbol maker, the only one of earth’s creatures (or at least the only one we know about) capable of traveling in time in a cosmos that suits him.“The past,” said William Faulkner, “is never dead. It’s not even past.” The observation is in line with George Orwell’s dictum “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.” Orwell was talking about the use of history as propaganda bent to the service of the state. The better deployment is in the service of the individual—the velocity of light relative to the mass of energy in the head of an observer.
It isn’t with miracles that men make their immortality. They do so with the vast store of human consciousness gathered on their travels across the frontiers of the millenn
compost heap of human civilization; the finding of the present in the past, the past in the present, is the stuff of which our lives, our liberties, and pursuits of happiness are made.
Books I regard as voyages of discovery, .. I don’t go in search of the lost gold mines of imperishable truth; I look instead for where I might learn what it is to be a human being, as flesh made word and word made flesh, as man, as woman, as both, or none of the above…..I live in all the pasts present on the page, and I begin to understand what the physicists have in mind when they talk about the continuum of time and space.
The stories that bear a second reading are those in which the author manages to get at the truth of what he or she has seen, felt, thought, knows, can *find language to express.
*perhaps this is where we are missing the boat.. by insisting on a finite/set language.. perhaps we open us/truth/antifragility/emergence/alive-ness up.. by realizing we have the **means to let go.. and let.. ie: idiosyncratic jargon.. be our language.. all the ways.. all the voices..
**on computer not getting language/meaning.. perhaps never meant to.. perhaps ai (augmenting) ness is more about facilitating our daily curiosities.. w/o us have to prep/train in a certain language first..
this issue of Lapham’s Quarterly suggests that we do nobody any favors by outsourcing the acts of discovery to machines. The suggestion runs counter to the arrogant belief that machines are the salvation of the human race, technology the light and wonder of the world. The prophecy is false, but the sales promotion is relentless
Machines can measure blood flow and scan a heartbeat, but they don’t know how it is with man, who he is and how it is between him and other men.
and… it’s that knowing.. of man/relationship.. that affects blood flow.. begs we go deeper.. than measure\ingness
but they can’t connect the dots to anything other than themselves.
They process words as lifeless objects, not as living subjects, and so they don’t know what the words mean. Not knowing what the words mean, they can’t hack into the civilizing heap of human consciousness (of myth and memory and emotion) that is the making of ourselves as human beings.
The internet is maybe the best and brightest machine ever made by man, blessed with a near-infinite expanse of miraculous application. Language is not yet one of them. Computers scan everything but hear nothing. Even if they knew where to find or how to make a cosmos best suited for human habitation, how would they send word of the discovery? They know not who they are or what they do.
The strength of language doesn’t consist in its capacity to pin things down or sort things out. “Word-work,” said Toni Morrison, accepting the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, “is sublime…because it is generative,” its felicity found in its reach toward the ineffable. “We die,” she said. “That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”
Co.Design (@FastCoDesign) tweeted at 4:23 AM – 16 Jun 2017 :
The world’s mother tongues mashed up into a big data bubble https://t.co/QjvMn6YCCQ (from 2015) https://t.co/PV8VCy5vbd (http://twitter.com/FastCoDesign/status/875659986805944322?s=17)