----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2000 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: [phoNet] Digest Number
Leaving aside the issue of 'universal grammar' (I am really scpetical
we have a preprogrammed universal grammatical structure -- it is anyway,
I'm not talking about Universal Grammar as defined by Chomsky, more
about something like Pinker's language instinct. The idea is, roughly, that
in order to learn you must have some expectations concerning what is going
to be learnt -- that is, at least some very elementary constraints on
permissible linguistic structure should be innate. I like what Roger Lass, a
prominent linguist from South Africa, said the other day on another list: a
little tabula rasa will just sit there unable to learn anything. If you
don't accept a specialised language-acquisition device, you'll have to
credit humans with a universal general-purpose learning mechanism, but that
doesn't account fully for the observed common features of unrelated
languages. How would _you_ account for the total absence of clicks from
languages outside the African "Clickland"?
... I don't think the genetic difference between human population is
big enough to influence the language faculty. There are racial differences in
the vocal track (shape of teeth,the implantation of nerves etc) but so limited
that we can easily compensate the difference in the articulators to produce
the same sound. The difference between a european male and female is much
greater that the difference between of a euorpean with a chinese.
Is there a racial difference in the
perception of music, colour etc ?
I don't know, but maybe other list
members can give us their opinions?