automatized or neurocognitively dedicated?

Joyce Tang Boyland jtang at COGSCI.BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Jul 30 19:56:31 UTC 1999

I think some clarification is in order on what people mean
by "dedicated neurocognitive structure".  I can imagine
interpretations that fit what Liz Bates is saying, and I can
imagine others that fit what Tom Givon is saying, but I do not
think that they are using the term in the same sense.

Bates writes:
    Talmy is right that it is important to find empirical tests that can
    DISTINGUISH between grammatical outcomes that have a dedicated
    neurocognitive structure and those that have instead emerged
    across the course of learning and communication, supported by
    neurocognitive mechanisms that have "still kept their day jobs"
    (i.e. mechanisms that continue to do non-linguistic work for which
    they evolved long before grammar ever appeared). [emphasis mine --JTB]

My reading of Givon is that he is *not* in fact making that distinction.

Givon writes:
    a behavioral subsystem ...[might be] ... either "epiphenomenal"
    or "routinized/automated" (by the LATTER I now mean
    "having a dedicated neuro-cognitive structure"). [emphasis mine --JTB]
    [some behaviors become] ... automated (thus having "emerged",
    "grammaticalized" with a dedicated neuro-cognitive structure).

The critical fact is that routinization/automatization
is a prime instance of the various neurocognitive mechanisms
that have "kept their day jobs".
So the issue is that I think we need to decide
whether we mean the kinds of neurocognitive structures that
exist *regardless* of routinization through experience, or
the kinds of neurocognitive structures that are the *result* of
general mechanisms such as routinization through experience?

Joyce Tang Boyland
Alverno College
Milwaukee, WI  53234-3922

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