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4 posts tagged with language by y2karl.
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The birth of a [sign] language

Experts Study New Sign Language System A new system of sign language developed by deaf children in Nicaragua may hold clues about the evolution of languages. When the country's first school for the deaf was established in 1977, children were not taught sign language but developed a system of signs to communicate. Childhood learning may determine linguistic rules ...They found that older students used hand signals resembling the gestures employed by hearing people, mimicking the entire event physically. But younger pupils - who had interacted with other deaf children from an early age - used a more complex series of signs. They split the scene into component parts and arranged these sequentially to convey the incident. The constructions resemble the way words and sentences are built in verbal languages, using segments structured in a linear fashion. This indicates that way the younger children learnt the sign language helped reshape it according to these linguistic rules.
............... Fascinating... /Mr. Spock
posted by y2karl on Sep 18, 2004 - 20 comments

American Dialect Society's 2003 Words of the Year

ass-hat: noun, a thoughtless or stupid person.
cliterati: collective noun, feminist or woman-oriented writers or opinion-leaders.
flexitarian: noun, a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.
freegan: noun, person who eats only what they can get for free.

Some winners from the American Dialect Society's 2003 Words of the Year.
posted by y2karl on Jan 16, 2004 - 30 comments

The Continuing Adventures of Alex The African Grey Parrot

So we put a number of differently colored letters on the tray that we use, put the tray in front of Alex, and asked, ''Alex, what sound is blue?'' He answers, ''Ssss.'' It was an ''s'', so we say ''Good birdie'' and he replies, ''Want a nut.'' Well, I don't want him sitting there using our limited amount of time to eat a nut, so I tell him to wait, and I ask, ''What sound is green?'' Alex answers, ''Ssshh.'' He's right, it's ''sh,'' and we go through the routine again: ''Good parrot.'' ''Want a nut.'' ''Alex, wait. What sound is orange?'' ''ch.'' ''Good bird!'' ''Want a nut.'' We're going on and on and Alex is clearly getting more and more frustrated. He finally gets very slitty-eyed and he looks at me and states, ''Want a nut. Nnn, uh, tuh.'' - That Damn Bird - A Talk with Irene Pepperberg. Referential Communication with an African Gray Parrot. Irene Pepperberg says that Arthur, an African Gray parrot, is so smart that she and a group of students at the Media Lab are teaching him to go online. A more subjective take on some more African Grey parrots here. The Alex Homepage. Alex interviewed. languagehat on talking parrots.
posted by y2karl on Nov 29, 2003 - 34 comments

Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky and the neuronaut's guide to the science of consciousness

We are because of others. We are born into this world with minds as naked as our bodies and we have to rely on others to feed, clothe us, and to teach us to think of ourselves as selves. The key is language -- grammatical speech and human culture build upon the brain's biological capacities to create a mind that is something different again than that with which we are born. We are conscious because we can speak to others and ourselves, because we can speak of ourselves to others and ourselves. Language gives us as individuals, memory, and as groups, culture, the social memory. Or so thought Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, among others. Welcome to the the neuronaut's guide to the science of consciousness.
posted by y2karl on Jul 11, 2003 - 36 comments

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