iffr762 at utxvms.cc.utexas.edu iffr762 at utxvms.cc.utexas.edu
Mon Feb 1 16:33:18 UTC 1999

[ private note to moderator snipped ]

	The efficiency of natural selection is greatly improved by
variation.  This is the fundamental purpose of sex.  Perfect copying (or
near-perfect:  "copy degeneration" will be ignored) is quite possible, but
would inevitably lead to evolutionary stagnation.

	If we turn to language, it should be evident that whatever the
first language was (something pidginish will be assumed here), perfect
copying could only lead to more of the same. Progress would require
imperfect copying, something to "throw up" variation, which selection
could then act upon.

	So I do hereby officially suggest that we are programmed to
produce slightly imperfect copies of the target language.  In the past,
this (by hypohesis) enabled language to evolve/progress to its current
level of sophistication. In the present, it does nothing but introduce
functionally pointless variation over time.

	Evidence in favor of this can be seen, I believe, in the
phenomenon of "Suggested Improvements" in children's speech, like "seed"
for "saw".  Early work saw such things as "errors", but sine then it has
become quite clear that children who say "seed" are fully able to use
"saw".  Conclusion:  they are intentionally producing imperfect copies.


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