Resources for Communication Problems

Thursday, January 24, 2008



作業四(LB P.230-231與工具書)

Lenneberg (1967)摘要(P.230,231)與工具書

Lenneberg (1967)摘要


Do you know who takes care of the first incomplete paragraph on p. 230?

In man, the ability to acquire language appears to be relatively independent of his own ability to “solve problems,” that is, of his type of “nonspecific intelligence.” Why should we, therefore, expect that an animal’s ability to solve human problems is relevant to his ability to acquire verbal behavior? In most animals the “cognitive strategy” for solving a given problem is quite different from that used by man(Uexkull,1921).

It may seem as if the cross-species comparisons of cognitive function and behavior by Harlow(1949 and 1958), Schrier et al.(1965), David D. Smith(1965), and by Rensch(1959,1964) and their students were contradictions to our assertions. Actually these findings are not contrary evidence, but they are not relevant to language acquisition, however. Let us picture the various skills that are relevant to communication as overlapping maps such as those shown in Fig6.4. There are some common skills as well as specializations. Let us assume that man’s language is closely tied to his cognitive structure. We might diagram the cognitive structures of other animals also as overlapping but not coterminous maps so that each has its own peculiar deviation. Suppose that language is in that part of man’s cognitive realm which most diverges from the “common region.” We see that it may take more that overlap to be capable of learning to speak.

(2)Continuity Theory B: Straight-Line Evolution of Complexity by Stepwise Accretion(with Missing Links)

Proponents of theories of this type admit of qualitative differences between human and animal communication, but they also believe that the extant communication behavior of animals has a discernible and continuous history. Language is seen as a complex of more or less independent features, each with its own history. In the course of evolution, more and more features developed and were added to the structure of communication behavior but, because of the various fates of individual species and phylogenetic off-shoots, there are a number of “missing links” or empty cells, So to speak, as diagrammed in Fig. 6.2.

Thus, we find zoologists who are concerned with what they consider to be the biological prerequisites for speech and language, to search for each of these prerequisites independently throughout the animal kingdom. For instance, O. Koehler(1951, 1952, 1954-a, and 1954-b) believes that there are at least nineteen biological prerequisites for language. Due to felicitous circumstances all of these nineteen prerequisites are present in man. Except for one or two, the prerequisites are common zoological characteristics which man has preserved owing to his animal nature. No lower animal is endowed even with all those prerequisites that are not specifically human. A given species may have just a few of them—not enough to learn to understand or to speak—whereas a few species have so many of the prerequisites that they are either able to reach lowest stage of human language-learning(parrots), or engage in behavior that is an excellent parallel of human language(such as v. Frisch’s honey bees).

Koehler proposes that one of the first prerequisites of language is the existence of concepts (unbenanntes Denken), that is, un-named thoughts. In a great number of experiments he has shown that many birds and mammals are capable of “counting” at least to three and many up to seven or even eight but none beyond. This suggests to Koehler that a number-concept is present and that this concept is practically universal among higher animals have unbenanntes Denken according to Koehler Man has a peculiar skill in attaching symbols or names to these concepts which Koehler considers to be the essence of language. But he feels that even in this skill man is not totally alone. Parrots can also name concepts, that is, are supposedly able to learn the meaning of a few words; and rudiments of the same skill are also seen by Koehler in aspects of the bees’ communication system.

Fig. 6.2 missing here. Scan the figure and send it to me as jpg file before you insert it here. Type and later translate the legend for fig. 6.2 too.

Speech-motor skills are innate in man, but biologically they are no innovation because some animals can learn to say things. Also the ontogenetic development of vocalizations in man has parallels in birds; just as birds go through characteristic song-stages after hatching, human infants go through characteristic stages of vocalization. Koehler explains the onset of words by an essential law of effect. The infant notices the results or effects of his crying and babbling and thus begins to make use of these vocalizations in order to bring about certain consequences. The early history of vocalizations and the beginning of language, he thinks, are identical with developments in certain birds, and are thereby evidence for the biological nature of these phenomena. Man and his language differ from animals and their communication (1) by degree of certain universal skills, particularly a nonspecific learning ability, and (2) by accretion of new skills such as man’s ability to combine and permute the named concepts, that is, words. So much about Koehler’s views.


Language acquisition: 語言習得(this concept is usually applied to first language / mother tongue acquisition)

Language learning: 語言學習 (Usually refers to second language learning)


雖然這個理論的支持者是允許人類和動物的溝通在性質上是有所不同的,但他們亦相信現在的溝通行為有一段可辦別的和連續性的歷史。語言是一個很獨立的模式,這個模式在物種的進化中持續發展,但在這一個進化的過程中,因為物種的發展史而令到一些線索消失。動物學家相當關注語言的先決條件,而事實上,可能至少有19種先決條件。Do you know what these are? Listed anywhere by Lenneberg or any evolutionary anthropologist / developmental psychologist? Will you be interested in this as a speech pathologist?而人類又差不多擁有全部的先決條件,就算其他物種有少部份,但也不足以去學習說話和理解,又有一些擁有較多的條件,可以達到人類語言中較低的層次。



Supplement information

An Introduction to Language(P.23)


本人所用的工具是powerword,這是一個翻譯軟體 Is this a software? Available on the web?


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