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What is language?

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Monday, January 2, 2006, 16:47
Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Making individual sounds is the easy part - the tricky one is controling > breathing so precisely you can chop an outbreath into a long sequence of > phonemes. Modern humans have a bunch of extra nerves to the breathing > musculature to faciliate this - early members of our genus, like H. erectus, > apparently had not, and so presumably were not prone to chattering. Then you > also need a brain capable of processing all this short sounds more-or-less in > real time.
I wonder whether that fact the vocal tract had become capable of producing such a wide range of different sounds did not, in part at least, act as stimulus to development of extra bunch of nerves & greater brain power. Just a thought.
> The current best guess seems to be that the physiological and neurological > prerequisites for human language as we know it today was not in place until > 200-300k years ago. By this time our lineage was already separate from the > Neanderthals' - I do not know if parallel changes occured in theirs.
Well, as i have said, i am far from an expert in these matters. But over the past quarter century there does seem to have been a revaluation of Neanderthals. In "Pre-Greek Speech on Crete" (1985) I wrote: "Whether Neanderthal man had developed articulate speech or not is a debatable question. Anatomically he appears to have been capable of some form of speech; but there is nothing in his primitive social organization to indicate that articulate speech was necessary." The first two sentences still hold true. But I would not write that third sentence now. See: -- Ray ================================== ================================== MAKE POVERTY HISTORY


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>