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Hi Madeleine,

Even though Noam Chomsky made a great contribution with transformational grammar, he left the deeper underlying biological foundations of language--especially meaning almost totally untouched. Eric Lenneberg showed how dependent language was on the underlying biological factors in The Biological foundations of language:


To simplify a bit, we have every reason to believe that mankind has always possessed spoken language and has shared meaningful information gathered primarily with vision. A critical component in both the development and use of this spoken language is to tie language development to biological developmental processes that require learning. Cognitive psychology has done a decent job of outlining developmental stages that organize more and more abstract aspects of the process up through and including moral development during adolescence (Piaget, Gibson, Neisser).

What is not clear at all is the establishment of relationships between what can be spoken and what can be represented spatially through some kind of drawing. I'm aware that written forms of languages have been developed that communicate purely spatial information (like Chinese characters) or, alternatively, spatial representations of the sounds of a language(like European languages), both, or some combination of the two. I once did some experiments in which I compared both spatial and aural versions of written languages to try to identify a set of graphical, sight based, distinctive features that could complement the well established set of articulatory speech based, distinctive features for sound.

In some ways, the primitive visual features that you are analyzing and transforming might be drawn from an early primitive set of such features. It is interesting that even though there are thousands of distinctive Chinese characters, only a relatively small number are necessary for basic reading skills. Similarly, only a small number of words are necessary to communicate in a European language.

Is any of this kind of thinking ever used for the kind of translating you carry out for the earliest prose known to man? Do you feel that you've identified some of the earliest graphical primitives?


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Subject Views Written By Posted
Very basic question about translations 1373 drrayeye 11-Aug-17 21:44
Re: Very basic question about translations 295 MDaines 12-Aug-17 09:30
Consider the biological foundations 230 drrayeye 14-Aug-17 00:13
Re: Consider the biological foundations 202 MDaines 14-Aug-17 08:19
Addendum 170 MDaines 21-Aug-17 17:09
Re: Addendum 188 cladking 21-Aug-17 17:43
Re: Addendum to the addendum 463 MDaines 21-Aug-17 18:05
Re: Consider the biological foundations 242 cladking 14-Aug-17 14:07

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