David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In [Book Chapter] (Unpublished) (1998)
Human languages, such as French, Cantonese or American Sign Language, are socio- cultural entities. Knowledge of them (`competence') is acquired by exposure to the ap- propriate environment. Languages are maintained and transmitted by acts of speaking and writing; and this is also the means by which languages evolve. The utterances of one generation are processed by their children to form mental grammars, which in some sense summarize, or generalize over, the children's linguistic experiences. These grammars are the basis for the production of a new avalanche of utterances to which the next generation in its turn is subjected. (This picture is simplified, of course, as generations overlap.) Languages inhabit two distinct and separate modes of existence, which have been called (by Chomsky, 1986) `E-Language' and `I-Language'. E-language is the external observable behaviour --- utterances and inscriptions and manifestations of their meanings. E-language is regarded by some as so chaotic and subject to the vicissitudes of everyday human life as to be a poor candidate for systematic study. (E-Language corresponds to what Chomsky, in earlier terminology, called `performance'.) Out of this blooming buzzing confusion the individual child distils an order internal to the mind; the child constructs a coherent systematic set of rules mapping meanings onto forms. This set of rules is the child's I-Language (where `I' is for `internal'). No two individuals' I-Languages have to be the same, although those of people living in the same community will overlap very significantly. But there will usually be at least some slight difference between the I-language features prevalent in one generation and those prevalent in the next. This is the stuff of language evolution, in the sense of the historical development of individual languages, such as Swedish, Navaho or Zulu.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Stephen R. L. Clark (2000). The Evolution of Language: Truth and Lies. Philosophy 75 (3):401-421.
Donald A. Crosby (1975). Horace Bushnell's Theory of Language: In the Context of Other Nineteenth-Century Philosophies of Language. Mouton.
Edward G. Belaga (2009). Discerning the Historical Source of Human Language. Faith Magazine 41 (5):10-12.
Fee-Alexandra Haase, The Meanings of Beauty: Studies of a Cultural Concept and its Variations in Multi-Lingual Societies of Africa Illustrating the Diversity in Esthetics and Ethnic Terminology.
Alex Barber, Idiolects. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Karen Emmorey (2005). Sign Languages Are Problematic for a Gestural Origins Theory of Language Evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (2):130-131.
William P. Bechtel (1996). What Knowledge Must Be in the Head in Order to Acquire Language. In B. Velichkovsky & Duane M. Rumbaugh (eds.), Communicating Meaning: The Evolution and Development of Language. Hillsdale, Nj: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 45.
Martin Heidegger (2004). On the Essence of Language: The Metaphysics of Language and the Essencing of the Word ; Concerning Herder's Treatise on the Origin of Language/ Martin Heidegger ; Translated by Wanda Torres Gregory and Yvonne Unna. State University of New York Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads44 ( #46,803 of 1,692,449 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #184,284 of 1,692,449 )
How can I increase my downloads?