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> "John Clark" <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> Re: Chomsky and evolved language circuitryDate: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 13:26:40 -0400
>Joe Dees <firstname.lastname@example.org> Wrote:
> >incremental expansions of linguistic competence, being a social skill, possess no survival
> >value in the absence of interlocuters
>I don't follow. If I'm even a little bit better than most of my fellow beings at communicating my
>mental state to others and at understanding their mental state then I will find it a little bit easier
>than most at finding a mate and avoiding fights I can't win. If I know a language nobody else
>does then yes, it's of no use to me, but if I have language skills nobody else does it is
>useful to me. For example, dogs have no language skills but we do and are able to
>communicate our wishes to them well enough to train them.
We can communicate to others, and they can communicate to us, only at the level of the competence of the less linguistically endowed. The less endowed cannot either send or receive more, and thus additional ability with regard to such an interlocuter is superfluous. Do not confuse linguistic facility with empathic intuition. And we train dogs Pavlovianly or Skinnerianly rather than concerse with them. However much it may emotionally seem like we hold dialogues with our beloved pets, they do not respond to words or phrases as if they mean things, but because they have been rewarded for associating them with particular responses (the 'Clever Hans' phenomenon). If a dog trainer of reasonable intelligence has a working vocabulary of 20k words, is he a worse trainer than a linguist who has employable mastery of a 200k vocabulary? No. All those extra words mean nothing to the dog, for he cannot be trained to execute in excess of 20k discrete responses to 20k+ discrete audit!
> John K Clark email@example.com
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