Further biological/linguistic parallels?

A. Katz amnfn at well.com
Tue Mar 28 21:00:19 UTC 2006


Was it you who mentioned that some related species of bees are social and
have specialized functions, while others live alone and carry on all

If so, what effect on communicative behavior does socialization or lack
thereof have? Do loner bees still dance the dance that helps locate
sources of nectar? Is the dance intentional and manipulative or is it
merely expressive and involuntary?

One of the often unspoken assumptions of grammaticalization theory is that
human language developed from intentional signals meant to manipulate the
behavior of others, as opposed to involuntary vocalizations and gestures
that served an expressive function for the individual  which just happened
to be useful to others in acquiring information from the speaker.


Dr. Aya Katz, Inverted-A, Inc, P.O. Box 267, Licking, MO
65542 USA

On Tue, 28 Mar 2006, jess tauber wrote:

> Another possible parallel between biological and linguistic processes was brought to mind today by another newsfeed piece- 'Scientists Discover Interplay Between Genes And Viruses In Tiny Ocean Plankton' (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060328083400.htm).
> Apparently in the ocean lower planktonic species are constantly updating their genetic makeup not just through random mutation or sexual exchange, but by massive turnover mediated by seaborne viruses. One big happy genetic near-continuum.
> In a way, this very much resembles the sorts of areal clusters of (politically independent) languages (such as in the North American Pacific Northwest, or aboriginal Australia) that can wreak havoc with nice clean historical genetic analyses, where form/structure borrowing may be extreme.
> The organisms in question are not known for very sophisticated immunity-type reactions to outside gene insertion, unlike higher ones that get most of their variability from internal recombination and mutation. But this adds tp a point I tried to make in earlier posts that the big generalized 'cosmopolitan' societies tend to internally differentiate and thus control their own development- whereas smaller specialized ones tend to be more at the mercy of outside forces.
> Other factors such as environmental compartmentalization, may also contribute to continuum/isolation effects which in linguistics can be modeled using areal groupings versus branching tree models.
> Jess Tauber
> phonosemantics at earthlink.net

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