Ellen F. Prince ellen at CENTRAL.CIS.UPENN.EDU
Fri Apr 25 04:32:14 UTC 1997

so how come dogs raised in a home with people don't speak? is it that
humans discriminate against them and so their social interaction isn't
rich enough?

and would you also say that a bee's communication system (dance) is likewise
explainable by its social milieu? or would you accord a bee a greater
genetic endowment than a human?

"Enrique Figueroa E." <efiguero at CAPOMO.USON.MX> wrote:

>Please notice the extremely cautious (and tricky?) expressions "general
>human program" and "in a detalied way".
>I would say that there has (also?) been evidence that certain aspects of
>language acqusisition, development and actual linguistic behaviour are
>due to and explainable by the general interaction of the individual with
>the social milieu, as opposed to being guided in a detailed way by a
>9genetic) biological program.
>The sense of maturation I have in mind is, say, the maturation that
>> underlies the development of a second set of teeth or of secondary sexual
>> charactaeristic.  These developments take place according to a biological
>> program, with somewhat varying times in the population.  Although the
>> environment certainly can affect the maturation (e.g. nutrition might
>> affect the development of secondary sexual characteristics), it is
>> uncontroversial that the development is essentially guided by a biological,
>> genetically determined program. There is reason to believe that some
>> aspects of UG share this rather omnipresent aspect of biological phonemona.
>> Biological structures and processes mature according to a biological
>> program, either before or after birth.
>>    The idea of genetically programmed maturation is so strong in the study
>> of biology that a special term has been defined for exceptions.  This term
>> is "plasticity."  Plasticity means that there is experience-dependent
>> variation in biological stuctures or processes.  It is considered a major
>> discvoery in the study of the brain in neuroscience, for example, when it
>> is demonstrated that a certain process is plastic.  The reason this is
>> considered a major discovery is because the general view is one of a
>> biological, genetically based program guiding development (see Nadel &
>> Wexler, 1984, for discussion)." (quotes from pp. 117-118).
>> >From Kenneth Wexler, "The development of inflection in a bioligically based
>> theory of language acquisition."
>>As for Chomsky's open avowal of his Platonic views: >
>> (Chomsky, N.  Language and problems of knowledge: the Managua Lectures.
>> MIT Press, 1988):
>> ³The evidence seems compelling, indeed overwhelming, that fundamental
>> aspects of our mental and social life, including language, are determined
>> as part of our biological endowment, not acquired by learning, still less
>> by training,  in the course of our experience² (p. 161)
>May I propose an inversion such as this?
>The evidence seems compelling, indeed overwhelming, that fundamental
>aspects of our apparently biological (such as sexual behaviour) and
>mental such as cognitive processes) life, including language, are
>largely determined as part of our social interaction, not inherited via
>inheritance, still less innately possessed qua members of the human
>Further inversions of the cited line of reasoning can be easily made and
>would be, at least, equally sound and convincing.
>Max >

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