automatized or neurocognitively dedicated?

Tom Givon tgivon at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Sat Jul 31 00:10:31 UTC 1999

I think Joyce is misinterpreting me. All I said is that there are two
separate issues. And that they are distinct. One is about evolution, and
Liz has certainly expressed her position about this. If I elected not to
touch upon it at this point, it is not because I subscribe to Liz's
(what seems to me...) rather extreme position (in essence, that language
is too recent to have any genetic consequences; while memory & attention
are old enough & have genetic consequences).

The issue I did touch upon exists regardless of how you resolve the
evolutionary/genetic issue. Whether the underlying mechanisms are
language-specific or not, "emergence" during lifetime skilled learning
either does or doesn't have neuro-cognitive consequences (the creation
of automated structured during skill acquisition). My bias on this is
obviously strong, as I have stated. I would like to find empirical means
of resolving this. And I am still waiting either Brian or Paul to
address the SECOND issue.   TG

Joyce Tang Boyland wrote:
> 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.
> Compare:
> 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]
> and:
>     [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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