noam chomsky on universal grammar and the genetics of language with captioning
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noam chomsky on universal grammar and the genetics of language with captioning


the first question mister Chomsky comes
from Chris Christoph Gudrow how have your ideas
on universal grammar changed over the years are you more or
less convinced to the theory now then you were initially ok well there’s there’s a lot of confusion about the
notion universal grammar you never universal grammar had a
traditional meaning but in modern linguistics last 50 years
or so it’s had a technical meaning which is
not and related to the traditional meaning when is not identical either universal grammer’s just the name for
the theory over the genetic component of the
language faculty I’ll I mean transparently there some
genetic component right there’s a reason say way my
granddaughter a reflexively identified some part of
her environment as language related which is no small trick nobody knows
outer duplicate that a and then more or less reflexively
picked up the capacity that we’re all now using whereas her pet the say kitten were chimpanzee your song were murder whatever it may be
with exactly the same in goods couldn’t even take the first
step can identify party the environment is language related obviously not the
later steps whether two possible answers to how that
happens one is it’s a miracle the other is
there’s a she has some specific genetic capacity
that’s like the capacity that Hatter grew arms and not wings would say just some
fixed Berhad a mammalian visual system but not
a insect visual system know if this is not
controversial for anything except human higher mental faculties for some
reason when people investigate human higher mental
faculties they have to be insane you know you can’t accept the approach that we
take to everything else in the world the kind with the methodological dualism
everything else in the world we study by the standard methods of science but
we talk about human higher mental faculties we have become
mystics so therefore the controversy about the existence %uh universal grammar which is like a
bit which means a controversy about whether there is some genetic property that
distinguishes humans from everybody else a which leads to these the ability to do doing what we’re not doing but there
shouldn’t be any controversy about that the only question is what is it well there have been theories about it
from the nineteen fifties when these studies
began up to the present and it’s a living field so they keep
changing so in that sense yes mine use about universal grammar keep
changing say when I’ll and walked into my office
is a graduate student told me I was wrong about everything so okay my own views change no a but the in that sense sure there’s going to be
constant change until the field is this piercers did or something and it’s
a long long way to go these are not trivial questions a the that sort of general tendency of
change not every link was would agree by any
means such personal opinions a in the early stages win the first question was asked seriously about fifty years ago as to
how we are capable of doing what we do the all the time how are we capable love understanding producing a expressions
which you we’ve never heard which may have never
been uttered in the history language in do it over infinite Ranger were very
strange properties that they have a soon as you look at them how can we do it the only answer seemed
to be that each of us has a highly intricate computational system in the brain which yields these very specific results but
that then poses a paradox because it must be
the case that we all all humans have the same genetic
capacitor with marginal variations the reason it
is if you take girl a child from say build a hundred gather
tribe in the Amazon and the child is raised in I’ll
Cambridge Mass it’ll the perfect made this become old graduate student studying quantum
physics at MIT with no different from anyone else him and conversely so we all have the
same capacity as were less understood why the capacity
developed a very recently an evolutionary time probably in some window between 200,000
and fifty thousand years ago something like that and that’s just the flicker when I’m so
whatever happened never changed except extremely
marginally so we’re all fundamentally identical for
all practical purposes human genetic variation is very slight
anyway superficial differences with not very
profound foreign than outside the
extraterrestrial observer looking at us the way we look at frogs which is only one hume and one language with minor
variations a so on the one hand this gotta be
uniform the other hand the it seemed to be the
case that each particular language had a highly
intricate and complex system rules computational system and
they’re very different from one another and that is a paradox in fact I’ll serious paradox well over the years
there have been efforts to the deal with the to try to overcome the paradox here a major step
was taken in here views on universal grammar at least for many of us did change radically was
around 1980 I’ll between you’re there yeah ones Terfel you when your a different view
the matter serve crystallized what’s called
sometimes called the principles and parameters you the picture that the principle that
there are fixed principles which are really invariant nobody has to acquire
them there abortive universal grammar and then
there’s a number options that can be taken call
parameters that the child has to pick up from
experience and they have to be pretty simple you
have to be able pick them up from limited evidence because that’s all
there is so for example and some languages like
English the that’s called ahead first language so the verb precedes the object then a
preposition proceeds the object to preposition and so on
other languages like the Japanese are almost the mirror image the the verb follows the objective being post positions not prepositions and so
on so liners are virtually mirror images of each other and you have to septa parameter child
has to set the parameter which is %uh my talking English German talking Japanese and that can be to be determined from
very simple bater so that’s good reasonable to assume a parameter a and
the hope was that you could find some finite set of parameters like a a finite
switchbox where you set the switch childhood sets
which is one way or another and can do it on the basis of fairly simple data and then once this enters
into I’ll predetermine system with principals you get things which superficially look
very different that are actually almost identical on just differing a superficial choices well if you work that out you have
solved the paradox too long way to work that out but that
made it possible at least to confront the issue seriously without facing an
immediate them yourself contradictions and it’s
sort of a lot older really rich period over research in a
query nothing like getting a thousands of
years I’ve history of study of language molest 25-30 years over a wide variety
of type logically different languages to
new questions at a depth we could never been proposed before sometimes answers a leading to new questions and so on been
a very lively period and also raised another question what
about the principles where do they come from that affect the choice of parameters
where do these things come from if they’re in universal grammar this
apart in the genetic and down a then had to involve some I’ll but not a lot could have evolved because
it’s two recent no you go back a hundred thousand years
there’s far as we know nothing a unions had the same I’ll anatomy anything that’s preserved in the fossil
records about same you know hundreds of thousand years back
so some small change must have taken place in the in the brain the which somehow
allowed the all this the suddenly blossom and pretty soon after that again and
evolutionary time like maybe got within two thousand years which is
no time at all a human started leaving East Africa nowhere real come from stores and when
those so some small group called developed this system and then we’ll spread all
over the world No girl sensual and saying but what
involved in that short period of time cannot have been very complex no
wouldn’t expect sears is extensive stage is like saying
your development world limbs no million two years therefore it
would you predict is that some other principal external to
language maybe some the principal nature the
principle of computational efficiency or something like that which is not specific to language interacted with
a small mutations which just gave rise to the the
universal grammar well that sets forth a new goal research
to ask to see if you can determine that the
principles themselves a up do not have the intricacy that they
appeared to have but are actually the result love
application of non linguistic contracting non maybe
non-human principles like general principles and
computational efficiency to whatever small change took place and
the small change was probably the capacity to the Terry out recursive enumeration basically has a
unique using the number system for example to take the two things to object already
constructed in the mind that make up a new object to them and then keep that processor
indefinitely so you get an infinite array of possible expressions each with some semantic interpretation some motive externalization the speech sign whatever may be that would be and
the goal would be to try to show that that was essentially instantaneous once the small
mutation took place given the this operation recursive
enumeration operation with allows you to create a discrete
infinity expression structured expressions well that’s at least feasible picture
the trick is to sure that’s true true or how close it is to true we can
you cut away at the apparent complexity the principles
ensure that they can actually be accounted for in terms of a general principal so that hold for organisms generally
perhaps and maybe even elsewhere in the physical world and that are instantly you’re almost
instantly applied once the original movies made into a whatever small move it was to produce
the capacity for recursive enumeration well that’s a goal don’t far from being
attained with West 15 twenty years there’s been considerable progress towards there’s a
lot of things that it seemed twenty years ago you had to assign to
the genetic and Delmon have no now been ruler plausibly shown to be a possible
consequences if just application particularly prince was a
computational efficiency to a system which had only the ability to constructing an infinite hierarchy expressions and that we don’t
know enough about the brain to know that might happen but that could have
been a very small mutation just changing something in somebody’s
gino and then spreading through the small
breeding group that so that the in that respect that the its its
it’s a goal you know and steps have been taken
towards it but you would expect that something like that or to be true just from the what’s known about the
media history over the a evolution over that Homo sapiens very recent times without much opportunity for selection
have had any effect maybe a small effect with not much so
that so I think I’ll it’s in that lets the tendency ok thinking at least my thinking and some other many others a on healthy
reserve universal grammar changed but the idea
that there is universal grammar that exists that can’t be controversial unless you
believe in magic no for the elementary reasons that I
mentions

24 thoughts on “noam chomsky on universal grammar and the genetics of language with captioning

  1. I'm not convinced that there is sth like UG that a child is born with. The fact that every language might have a name for "the sun" doesn't mean that a child is born with a concept of the sun. The sun is such an intrinsic part of reality that every child HAS TO learn it. Similarily the concept of an action (verb) or a thing (noun) seems to me an intrinsic part of the world. Just being able to observe it, categorise it, and name it seems to be the only necessary condition.

  2. But.. if UG is simply defind as every biological difference between a human and an animal which gives the former the ability to speak, than sure, UG is real. Though the name seems inapropriate. I would name it sth like UCL – Universal Capacity for Language. The 'grammar' bit seems misleading.

  3. I think you were misled. UG doesn't claim that we are born with concepts, but rather mental rules that generate sentences. These supposed mental rules, or cognitive processes are claimed to be universal amongst our species. RE: language acquisition; Our syntax rules are recursive so we can produce an utterance never before heard by ways of conjoining an infinite chain of Phrases or Sentences together. (Cf.poverty of stimulus)

  4. Terrence Mckenna said that mushrooms were the cause of language development, he said that there are records of cave paintings of mushrooms and gods. He said that there was a symbiotic relationship between prehistoric man and entheogens that influenced our evolution..

  5. His arguments are so steeped in genetic determinism in spite of growing evidence to the contrary. He brushes off all other arguments by saying that if there is no innate universal grammar then language acquisition must be magic. His arguments lack contextual understanding and are deeply rooted in a mechanistic Weltanschauung … a worldview constructed with reductionism, determinism, and materialism.
    This is typical of Chomsky and Pinker who know about languages but do not know languages – monolingual biases of monolingual linguists.

  6. When a scientist uses such a ridiculess dichotomy in terms of something so complicated and not well understood as human brain, that's when I stop listening.

  7. No signal that we (human beings) were born with the gift background of that universal grammar. The gift is the human brain that can analyze information in a great and extraordinary way. The prove of my words are children who were born deaf. The are not able to speak because they did not listen and learn how a language sounds like. If it is something genetic, we would speak even if we were born deaf or alone in an isolated island. Do u agree with me or not? Y? Y not?

  8. I've been watching YouTube videos for like the past hour and for some goddamn reason this particular video just fucking refuses to play, it's insanely irritating.

  9. A somewhat devious tactic to offer two explanations for a given statement, of which the first explanation is "obviously baloney" and the second being the one which he considers to be true. Now before you say that this is a rhetorical tool to make the speech more engaging to the audience, which it undoubtedly is, its main effect remains manipulative and in favor of Chomsky's line of reasoning.

  10. If you put the speed on "1.5," he sounds a lot like his younger self. His speech has slowed in old age, so this helps a little.

  11. To assign a genetic basis for language sounds , bogus – smacks of Eugenics, a false theology which satanists have been propagating for centuries.

    Is this not a clever way of suggesting that only certain persons of a certain genetic heritage are able to receive the Word of God?

    Speak not in secret about the evil they do, but speak plainly,
    so that others might see. For if they be uncertain as to what
    they hear, will they yet prepare to do battle?

    Regarding Social Justice :

    Do not confuse a correlation with a causal relationship.

    [ Frank Parkin argues in 'Class Inequality and Political Order' (1971)
    that : Inequality associated with the class system are founded
    upon two interlocking, but conceptually distinct, social processes.
    One is the allocation of rewards attaching to different positions in
    the social system ; the other is the process of recruitment to those
    positions.

    To illustrate that a corporate elite exists involves inequality of condition ;
    to illustrate differential access to elite positions involves unequal
    opportunity. ]

    Social justice entails not so much the equalization of rewards as the
    equalization of opportunities to compete for privileged positions.

    " Yeshivas, for everybody ! "

    Families who are able to pass their accumulated advantages
    on to their kin establish a system of "social self-recruitment" within
    privileged strata from one generation to the next, thus perpetuating
    class through kinship ties.

    ( The good, they – the sons of Jacob – do : )

    This explains why Jews tend to be found in Jewish families, rather
    than gentile ones. Because they who grow up with (or near) His Word,
    are more likely to keep His Word, and be watched over by the Angels,
    rather than the children who grow up without His Word, or who seek
    Him not. It is written, Jacob have I loved ; Esau have I hated. Esau
    chased after worldly things, whereas his brother Jacob desired spiritual
    gifts. They who keep His Word (the true riches) are loved by Him.
    We are all his offspring, but are you a child of God, or a bastard?

    Affirmative Action policies exist because
    evil males who call themselves "white" (as if
    to suggest that they are the children of
    light, and not of darkness) will not stop
    discriminating, persecuting, and abusing
    "persons of colour" – they deny them
    opportunities of economic advancement
    because of their genetic heritage. And so
    in the interests of Social Justice, government
    – which is supposed to serve ALL – must
    promote Reverse Discrimination for the
    simple reason that "white males" refuse to
    stop promoting Eugenics (which is a false
    theology, of the devil and not of the god of
    Israel, which is a person and a people – not a
    land). They who promote Eugenics, are
    helping to promote slavery and "rape culture".

  12. There's never really been any breakthrough for Chomsky on the subject.  Yes, you need a physical structure like a human brain to develop and conduct language.  What's so brilliant about this idea?  How about nothing…

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