new language discovered in remote Australia

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Tue Aug 6 02:13:34 UTC 2013

Perhaps is of interest. It describes a famous case of a man without language input (I think he was able to negotiate money as a day laborer), demonstrating that abstract thought is possible without language. When Schaller found him, she tried teaching him signs. When he finally figure it out, he began asking for signs for all kinds of things.

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

Learn Ainu!

On Aug 5, 2013, at 6:50 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:

> Also fascinating (to me, as a layman).  Although Pinker's quotation
> too will need to be modified ("And it's the only time that we've
> actually seen a language being created out of thin air."), although
> I'm sure the linguists have debated the definition of "thin air".
> I don't see in the Wikipedia article any discussion of whether or how
> the Nicaraguan sign language development proves that language is
> "hard wired" in humans, as opposed to learned and culturally
> influenced.  Is that discussed anywhere, with reference to the
> Nicaraguan sign language?
> Joel
> At 8/5/2013 09:27 PM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>> I wrote the NYT, told them that this is not the first time this has
>> happened and gave them the link to
>>, but they have
>> failed to correct Dr. Bakker's quote.
>> Benjamin Barrett
>> Seattle, WA
>> Learn Ainu!
>> On Aug 5, 2013, at 5:53 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>>> I think W Brewer is being unfair.  Perhaps it is "merely" a "dialect"
>>> rather than a "language", but it has a speaking, self-perpetuating,
>>> youthful population, and certainly is "new" because it did not exist
>>> 30 or so years ago.  Worth my tax dollars. (And definitely in "remote
>>> Australia": about midway between Darwin and Alice Springs, with
>>> nothing I'm aware of to the east or west except a rabbit-proof fence.)
>>> I found this especially intriguing because the language (vocabulary
>>> and grammar) is said to have been invented by the children of this
>>> village.  (As the articles note, it does have borrowed and merged
>> elements.)
>>> A perhaps more-informative article appeared three weeks ago in the
>>> NYTimes Science pages (with map), online on July 14 and in print on
>>> July 16.  It's worth reading just for the history of the formation of
>>> the village (omitted, expectedly, from the Australian article David
>>> Daniel pointed to, and also, unexpectedly, from Wikipedia's article
>>> on Lajamanu) -- forcible removal from their home territory of an
>>> aboriginal population in 1948.
>>> Joel
>>> W Brewer wrote:
>>>> Depends on what your definition of  <language> is. Call it just another
>>>> English pidgin and nobody cares.  "But the discovery of a new language in
>>>> remote Australia is causing a ripple of excitement among linguists around
>>>> the world."  Congratulations, Ms. O'Shannesssy, from the University of
>>>> Michigan. Your tax dollars at work.
>>> At 8/5/2013 03:29 PM, David A. Daniel wrote:
>>>> Y'all probably know all about this but it was new to me and I
>> thought it was
>>>> interesting so I figured I'd send it along.
>>>> DAD
>>>> New language discovered in remote desert town
>>>> desert-town/story-fni0xqrb-1226679750797

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