"Language Gene" found...
October 5, 2001 1:40 PM   Subscribe

"Language Gene" found... (link to arstechnica discussion) "A group of Oxford University researchers presented findings in this week's Nature that they isolated a gene called FOXP2 that appears to be involved in both speech and language development." this is intriguing... that so much can start from so little.
posted by zerolucid (7 comments total)
What would be interesting is to find out if the gene is a mutation or not. It would answer questions about whether or not other animals have language skills as well? Can Apes communicate with words of their own?
posted by samishah at 2:21 PM on October 5, 2001

A mutation as opposed to what? A gene placed there by God?
posted by Doug at 2:24 PM on October 5, 2001

A mutation opposed to other primates...
posted by Aikido at 2:37 PM on October 5, 2001

Perhaps samishah meant "a mutation (or gene sequence) unique to the human species". If the gene was to be found in, say humans and dolphins, but not apes, that would be quite interesting. Or if it was found in some species but wasn't "used" in all.
posted by girlhacker at 2:39 PM on October 5, 2001

Language is a virus.

"'It is worth noting that if a virus were to attain a state of wholly benign equilibrium with its host cell it is unlikely that its presence would be readily detected OR THAT IT WOULD NECESSARILY BE RECOGNIZED AS A VIRUS. I suggest that the word is just such a virus. Doktor Kurt Unruh von Steinplatz has put forth an interesting theory as to the origins and history of this word virus. He postulates that the word was a virus of what he calls BIOLOGIC MUTATION effecting the biologic change in its host which was then genetically conveyed. One reason that apes cant talk is because the structure of their inner throats is simply not designed to formulate words. He postulates that alteration in inner throat structure were occasioned by virus illness ..."

William S. Burroughs, Electronic Revolution, 1970
posted by Dean King at 2:50 PM on October 5, 2001

Read the link. It's not a gene for UG (Universal Grammar, Chomsky's blueprint of human language), it's a gene for facial muscles that allow humans to speak. People with a bad mutation in the gene can't say complex words because it's too hard for their muscles to do it. So I'd expect something similar in chimps (evidenced by Curious George) but since dolphin communication doesn't involve facial muscles, you shouldn't find it there.
posted by phoenix enflamed at 2:55 PM on October 5, 2001

I think what's particularly alarming about the finding is the fact that it's a FOX subsidiary.
posted by saladin at 4:57 PM on October 5, 2001

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