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Adam Parrish wrote:

> On Tue, 7 Sep 1999, JOEL MATTHEW PEARSON wrote:
>
> [snip]
> > Linguistic development requires linguistic input
>
>         I'm perhaps missing the intended point of this thread, but this
> phrase interested me.  It seems true enough; without some model to
> follow, I doubt a true "language" would develop in the given situation.
> However, is there a threshold for *how much* linguistic input would be
> needed to spur the creation of a language?

Yes, I'd say so.  It's practically impossible for a child to be so neglected
that they hear *no* words of any kind coming from someone around
them.  The important is that they need to get enough to be able to realize
the existence of language, to break apart the code (or in Chomskyan
terminology, to flip on or off the switches) that makes up a particular
language -- and that takes considerably more than the occasional word.

Take the partial analogy to linguists deciphering Etruscan.  They need
enough of a corpus of texts to be able to determine what phonological
sequence of sounds means what on a semantic level, and since, at present,
they have little more than a few funerary urns and tablets, they haven't
broken the code.  They at least have an easier time:  they know of the
phenomenon called "language"; abused children don't, or at least don't
on any conscious level (depending on how much of an innatist you are).


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Tom Wier <[log in to unmask]>
ICQ#: 4315704   AIM: Deuterotom
Website: <http://www.angelfire.com/tx/eclectorium/>
"Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."

Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and
oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil
spirits at the dawn of day. - Thomas Jefferson
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