----- Original Message -----
From: Guillaume JACQUES
To: phoNet@egroups.com
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2000 5:39 PM
Subject: Re: [phoNet] Digest Number 24

Leaving aside the issue of 'universal grammar' (I am really scpetical we have a preprogrammed universal grammatical structure -- it is anyway, beyond testing)...
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?