Neanderthals and Language

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Gary Childress
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Neanderthals and Language

Post by Gary Childress » Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:50 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcQVtXfu9ow

Noam Chomsky is a towering figure in contemporary linguistics. With such authority I almost feel a little suspicoius about what he says in this video concerning the "senselessness" or "uninteresting" quality which he seems to mention concerning scientific exploratoin of the topic of whether Neanderthals possessed language or not. BECAUSE, literally one of Chomsky's most influential premises concerning language is that only homo sapien sapiens possess it. Therefore if, by whatever means, it turned out that Neanderthals also possessed it, then perhaps Chomsky's main tennet about language would be incorrect. Why would that be "senseless" or "uninteresting" in terms of scientific research? To the contrary, wouldn't that be an earthshaking or "paradigm" shaking discovery?

Listening to the video, Chomsky almost seems to discourage people from exploring, speculating and asking questions concerning the subject of Neanderthals and language. It reminds me a little of Einstein's contention with Bohr over "God does not roll dice". It was almost as if Einstein believed that it was somehow something morally imperative for quantum theory to be inaccurate. That if quantum mechanics were discovered to be true, then something horrible would come from it.

Granted there was the atomic bomb which was perhaps developed consequently owing to the research of both Einstein and Quantum physicists. But was that what Einstein was worried about when he said, "God does not roll dice?"


I don't know. I am neither a physicist nor a linguist. But from what I learned decades ago from my studies in philosophy at George Mason University as well as from what seemed to be the prevailing opinion of a few popularizers of science when I was growing up (Carl Sagan, for example) was that science is supposed to be a tool which we humans use to better inform us when we decide to do things or to help inform our beliefs. Trying to discourage scientists from investigating certain things in the world for fear that it would somehow cause "harm" was literally what people like Sagan and others were suggesting represented everything bad about religious orthodoxies. When religious leaders condemned people like Bruno and Galileo, or discouraged accepting the views of Copernicus, Nietzsche and others, it was on the grounds that their views presented a danger to society because they undermined the teachings of the Church and if ordinary people stopped listening to the Church then society would come unraveled and people would stop believing in things like "thou shalt not kill" and other things the Church was teaching as the absolute commands of God.


So what are we to make of Chomsky and Einstein's apparent concerns over the specific things they seem to be concerned about with respect to scientists doing further research, to the point of perhaps even discouraging such research?

commonsense
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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by commonsense » Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:54 pm

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:50 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcQVtXfu9ow

Noam Chomsky is a towering figure in contemporary linguistics. With such authority I almost feel a little suspicoius about what he says in this video concerning the "senselessness" or "uninteresting" quality which he seems to mention concerning scientific exploratoin of the topic of whether Neanderthals possessed language or not. BECAUSE, literally one of Chomsky's most influential premises concerning language is that only homo sapien sapiens possess it. Therefore if, by whatever means, it turned out that Neanderthals also possessed it, then perhaps Chomsky's main tennet about language would be incorrect. Why would that be "senseless" or "uninteresting" in terms of scientific research? To the contrary, wouldn't that be an earthshaking or "paradigm" shaking discovery?

Listening to the video, Chomsky almost seems to discourage people from exploring, speculating and asking questions concerning the subject of Neanderthals and language. It reminds me a little of Einstein's contention with Bohr over "God does not roll dice". It was almost as if Einstein believed that it was somehow something morally imperative for quantum theory to be inaccurate. That if quantum mechanics were discovered to be true, then something horrible would come from it.

Granted there was the atomic bomb which was perhaps developed consequently owing to the research of both Einstein and Quantum physicists. But was that what Einstein was worried about when he said, "God does not roll dice?"


I don't know. I am neither a physicist nor a linguist. But from what I learned decades ago from my studies in philosophy at George Mason University as well as from what seemed to be the prevailing opinion of a few popularizers of science when I was growing up (Carl Sagan, for example) was that science is supposed to be a tool which we humans use to better inform us when we decide to do things or to help inform our beliefs. Trying to discourage scientists from investigating certain things in the world for fear that it would somehow cause "harm" was literally what people like Sagan and others were suggesting represented everything bad about religious orthodoxies. When religious leaders condemned people like Bruno and Galileo, or discouraged accepting the views of Copernicus, Nietzsche and others, it was on the grounds that their views presented a danger to society because they undermined the teachings of the Church and if ordinary people stopped listening to the Church then society would come unraveled and people would stop believing in things like "thou shalt not kill" and other things the Church was teaching as the absolute commands of God.


So what are we to make of Chomsky and Einstein's apparent concerns over the specific things they seem to be concerned about with respect to scientists doing further research, to the point of perhaps even discouraging such research?
Chomsky aside, the conjugation of the verb, “to possess”
makes “possess” and “possessed” take place at completely different times. The tenet stands as neither disproved nor proved. As such, your claim that Chomsky’s main tenet would be incorrect is baseless. What follows a baseless claim is also baseless.

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Post by henry quirk » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:15 pm

"So what are we to make of Chomsky and Einstein's apparent concerns over the specific things they seem to be concerned about with respect to scientists doing further research, to the point of perhaps even discouraging such research?"

Two kings a'fear'd of bein' deposed.

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by Greta » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:30 am

Chomsky eventually made some good points about the archaeological records not displaying evidence of Neanderthal language and how crossbreeding between species is not uncommon and does not require common language (and may well have not required consent either).

Still, Chomsky did seem to engage in some (very quiet) ranting about how "senseless" it would be to explore the lingual capacities of non-human species. "What would it prove?" he asks, as if exploration was only worthwhile if trying to prove a point. I assume this is a bias rather than him generally disapproving blue skies research.

Personally, I think human lack of interest in decoding the subtle behavioural signals between animals is at issue. In our human focus on "the big things" we ignore most body language of others, both human and otherwise, but it is perhaps the closest thing to a universal language. The closer one pays attention, the more information body language provides. The vast majority of readily-discernible signals go right past us or are picked up unconsciously. Why do we ignore them? Priority, and because we can.

Studying the subtleties of animal responses is much more of a bottomless well of information than most people assume. They are very much like us IMO, only with different senses and comforts and a childishly immediate sense of time and place.

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:07 am

I don't doubt that the Neanderthal would have had their own primitive language. Language is only a way of communicating. Language has obviously become more and more sophisticated, but it all started off as grunts.
Who the hell cares what Chompsky says about it?

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Greta
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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by Greta » Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:23 am

The language might have also been purely verbal. Each of us starts off as nonverbal, then we become verbal and later usually becomes literate. Hominids may well have followed this same order of events.

For all we know, spoken Neanderthal language may have been quite developed. They might have been not yet developed enough to use abstract written symbols (maybe because they were such excellent artists?), and then climate change and competition of Homo spaiens finished them off.

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by -1- » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:26 am

Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:30 am
Chomsky eventually made some good points about the archaeological records not displaying evidence of Neanderthal language and how crossbreeding between species is not uncommon and does not require common language (and may well have not required consent either).
At least not consent or the opposite of it that courts of law would recognize, and without due process, no Neanderthal ought to be convicted of rape.

My approach is different. I think human males PREFERRED Neanderthal females over the females of their own species, what with the N- females unable to talk.

A home, a household, with peace, quiet, and undisturbed harmony in bliss.

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Greta
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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by Greta » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:24 pm

-1- wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:26 am
Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:30 am
Chomsky eventually made some good points about the archaeological records not displaying evidence of Neanderthal language and how crossbreeding between species is not uncommon and does not require common language (and may well have not required consent either).
At least not consent or the opposite of it that courts of law would recognize, and without due process, no Neanderthal ought to be convicted of rape.

My approach is different. I think human males PREFERRED Neanderthal females over the females of their own species, what with the N- females unable to talk.

A home, a household, with peace, quiet, and undisturbed harmony in bliss.
Ha! They'd be able to talk, just not write.

To be fair, blow up dolls would be quiet if that's your priority. Maybe once you found the right inflatable gal you two could get a pet rock, your betrothed would give birth to Barbie and Ken dolls and the happy family would live silently ever after :)

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by -1- » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:29 pm

Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:24 pm
To be fair, blow up dolls would be quiet if that's your priority. Maybe once you found the right inflatable gal you two could get a pet rock, your betrothed would give birth to Barbie and Ken dolls and the happy family would live silently ever after :)
That would lead to a logistics nightmare.

I am not going to blow my partner. No way. If I have to blow my doll before she blows me, it's for the pits.

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by -1- » Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:31 pm

Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:24 pm

To be fair, blow up dolls would be quiet if that's your priority. Maybe once you found the right inflatable gal you two could get a pet rock, your betrothed would give birth to Barbie and Ken dolls and the happy family would live silently ever after :)
One preeeck on her skin, and the marriage is over. With a big bangggg.

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Greta
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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by Greta » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:46 pm

-1- wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:31 pm
Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:24 pm

To be fair, blow up dolls would be quiet if that's your priority. Maybe once you found the right inflatable gal you two could get a pet rock, your betrothed would give birth to Barbie and Ken dolls and the happy family would live silently ever after :)
One preeeck on her skin, and the marriage is over. With a big bangggg.
A pr1ck and a big bang is how everything begins :)

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by -1- » Wed Sep 05, 2018 12:42 am

Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:46 pm
-1- wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:31 pm
Greta wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 10:24 pm

To be fair, blow up dolls would be quiet if that's your priority. Maybe once you found the right inflatable gal you two could get a pet rock, your betrothed would give birth to Barbie and Ken dolls and the happy family would live silently ever after :)
One preeeck on her skin, and the marriage is over. With a big bangggg.
A pr1ck and a big bang is how everything begins :)
:-D

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Re: Neanderthals and Language

Post by gaffo » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:03 am

Gary Childress wrote:
Sun Sep 02, 2018 12:50 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcQVtXfu9ow

Noam Chomsky is a towering figure in contemporary linguistics. With such authority I almost feel a little suspicoius about what he says in this video concerning the "senselessness" or "uninteresting" quality which he seems to mention concerning scientific exploratoin of the topic of whether Neanderthals possessed language or not. BECAUSE, literally one of Chomsky's most influential premises concerning language is that only homo sapien sapiens possess it. Therefore if, by whatever means, it turned out that Neanderthals also possessed it, then perhaps Chomsky's main tennet about language would be incorrect. Why would that be "senseless" or "uninteresting" in terms of scientific research? To the contrary, wouldn't that be an earthshaking or "paradigm" shaking discovery?

Listening to the video, Chomsky almost seems to discourage people from exploring, speculating and asking questions concerning the subject of Neanderthals and language. It reminds me a little of Einstein's contention with Bohr over "God does not roll dice". It was almost as if Einstein believed that it was somehow something morally imperative for quantum theory to be inaccurate. That if quantum mechanics were discovered to be true, then something horrible would come from it.

Granted there was the atomic bomb which was perhaps developed consequently owing to the research of both Einstein and Quantum physicists. But was that what Einstein was worried about when he said, "God does not roll dice?"


I don't know. I am neither a physicist nor a linguist. But from what I learned decades ago from my studies in philosophy at George Mason University as well as from what seemed to be the prevailing opinion of a few popularizers of science when I was growing up (Carl Sagan, for example) was that science is supposed to be a tool which we humans use to better inform us when we decide to do things or to help inform our beliefs. Trying to discourage scientists from investigating certain things in the world for fear that it would somehow cause "harm" was literally what people like Sagan and others were suggesting represented everything bad about religious orthodoxies. When religious leaders condemned people like Bruno and Galileo, or discouraged accepting the views of Copernicus, Nietzsche and others, it was on the grounds that their views presented a danger to society because they undermined the teachings of the Church and if ordinary people stopped listening to the Church then society would come unraveled and people would stop believing in things like "thou shalt not kill" and other things the Church was teaching as the absolute commands of God.


So what are we to make of Chomsky and Einstein's apparent concerns over the specific things they seem to be concerned about with respect to scientists doing further research, to the point of perhaps even discouraging such research?
Chomsky is overrated.

horsesence would assume that anyone Homo Erectus and beyond had words for objects.

and so language - from 2 million yrs go to today.

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