One linguist uses the difference between words and syntax as the
distinction between "language" in humans and in other animals. He
claims even apes do not create syntactic patterns though they can
understand words and even some sentences.
Date sent: Fri, 10 Jan 2003 10:56:41 -0600
Send reply to: "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From: Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Screw grammar / Hypercorrection
To: [log in to unmask]
Nancy Gish wrote:
> All languages, in any case, reproduce complex grammatical structures
> even if they were lost in one form. For example, an incredible number
> of young people in Nicaragua are deaf because they had no antibiotics
> that were not also dangerous in having deafness as a side effect. The
> first generation of signers used a kind of creole, but their children
> automatically developed a complete and complex grammar. That seems to
> be how language acquisition works. Judith Kegl, at my university, has
> worked in Nicaragua on this.
Interesting -- and it lends credibility to the speculation of the
anthropologist Ian Tattersall that language was, in the first instance,
invented by children (or rather invented a number of different times and
places by children and then picked up by adults). See his _The Monkey in
the Mirror_ (New York, 2002). He also speculates that words and syntax
represent separate inventions.