mellyrn on September 21, 2010, 11:42:05 am
p.302, Ken Nightingale (heh) says that "we are the only species that has or responds to music".

I infer from this that Ken is a bit of a supernaturalist.  (Either that or he is using a circular argument:  "the musical stuff that our species produces and/or responds to is the only 'true' music, ergo we are the 'only' species with music.")

If we are the only truly musical species, what the dickens did our -- astonishing, complex, sophisticated -- musical ability evolve out of? 

By analogy, even though our intelligence is orders of magnitude more sophisticated than any other intelligence on this planet (that we know of), we do not claim that we are the only species with intelligence.  Our extraordinary intelligence is evolutionarily descended from existent intelligence.  How would this be different for music?  There are no whale songs in the "Top 40" -- and no publications by Koko in any peer-reviewed journal.  ?

As to his dismissal of birdsong and whale song as merely animal "signals" -- oh, dear, is there music, real music, that does not convey information?  The best music contains a powerful storytelling quality.  I've heard some very pretty stuff (and some not-so-pretty) that nonetheless bored the snot out of me because it sounded like the musical equivalent of random babbling -- as though the composer ("composer") thought you wrote music merely by stringing together a bunch of notes.  Is it such a stretch, then, from "animal signals" to Carolan's Welcome, that the latter must be unique and without evolutionary precedent, like Athena springing fully formed from the forehead of Zeus -- i.e., supernatural?

macsnafu on September 21, 2010, 04:21:17 pm
p.302, Ken Nightingale (heh) says that "we are the only species that has or responds to music".

If we are the only truly musical species, what the dickens did our -- astonishing, complex, sophisticated -- musical ability evolve out of? 
...

 Is it such a stretch, then, from "animal signals" to Carolan's Welcome, that the latter must be unique and without evolutionary precedent, like Athena springing fully formed from the forehead of Zeus -- i.e., supernatural?

Aesthetically, music conveys emotion.  But surely humans originally used music and sound as signals (and still do, in conjunction with technology (horn honk, computer beep, doorbell, alarm clock, etc).  I'm not sure as to why, although the human ability of pattern recognition is pointed to by some. 
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

jamesd on September 21, 2010, 06:21:38 pm
p.302, Ken Nightingale (heh) says that "we are the only species that has or responds to music".

I infer from this that Ken is a bit of a supernaturalist.  (Either that or he is using a circular argument:  "the musical stuff that our species produces and/or responds to is the only 'true' music, ergo we are the 'only' species with music.")

As you imply, lots of species make music, dance, and so forth - we merely do so a lot more elaborately.

And similarly for language.  Dogs don't speak English, but humans speak doggish.

Stand in front of a mirror and say "Mine"

Now say it loud, long, and slow "Miiiiiiine"

You will find the facial expression that you see in the mirror strikingly familiar, and that it goes rather well with the sound that you hear.

The fact that our word for "mine" is also a dog's word for "mine" indicates that the inclination to defend what is ours is innate in our nature, and was long before we were human. Propertarian behavior, and thus property, is innate in our nature.  It is not a social construction.

So humans will die for Darwin, in the sense that our nature is a product of natural selection, and it is innate in our nature that we will fight and kill and risk dying for what is ours.

I only checked English, Dutch, French,German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

English:   Mine
Dutch:     Mijn (snarl with a bit of a sneer in it)
French:    Mine
German:   Meins
Italian:      Mine
Portuguese: Minha (a snarl that ends as a growl)
Spanish:    Mio  (more hiss in the snarl than in English)

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

But what about languages with no word for "mine"?

The one word sentence "Mine!" does not directly and literally translate into Chinese or Vietnamese - it is unidiomatic in those languages

In Vietnamese, if someone was trying to swipe your spring rolls at a feast, you would very likely say "cua", which means something like "valuable property".  This is short for the complete sentence "valuable property me", which means both that this is my property, and that I value this property highly - which is pretty much what the single word sentence "Mine" means in English.

"Cua", when pronounced slowly and emphatically by a Vietnamese, looks and sounds very like "mine" when pronounced slowly and emphatically.  One pulls back ones lips from both ones upper and lower canine teeth, and the sound is pretty much a snarl.  When you are reading someone's lips, they look the same.  Compare with"Cheeeeese".  With cheeeese, you do not open your mouth as much, and you keep your lower canines pretty much covered.


quadibloc on September 29, 2010, 08:53:21 pm
If we are the only truly musical species, what the dickens did our -- astonishing, complex, sophisticated -- musical ability evolve out of?
Well, chimpanzees don't make music. So even if we discount birdsong and whalesong, or accept them as music, we still have that problem.

But while millions of years ago, our ancestors were similar enough to modern-day chimpanzees as to be classed as a third form of chimpanzee, one that hunted in packs, unlike either the common chimpanzee or the bonobo, we didn't develop directly from them with no intermediate steps.

After chimpanzees, there was australopithecus - similar to a chimpanzee anatomically, but with a significantly larger brain. Then came H. erectus - similar to a Neanderthal, but with a smaller brain than he had. Finally, there came us. So there was a lot of room for gradual evolution to take place. Since neither australopithecus nor erectus are around these days, even if it was necessary for them to show some beginnings of musical ability for us to have it as well, that wouldn't stop us from being the only surviving creature with it.

We're definitely the only creatures that read and write. But anatomically modern humans didn't always have the ability to do that - our brains were powerful enough to give us the potential to do it, but cultural advance had to take place before we gained this skill. Music could also be a cultural activity that didn't begin until after the emergence of anatomically modern humans - although Neanderthals also made music, as flutes have been found with them, if I remember correctly.

Archonix on September 30, 2010, 05:07:21 am

I only checked English, Dutch, French,German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

English:   Mine
Dutch:     Mijn (snarl with a bit of a sneer in it)
French:    Mine
German:   Meins
Italian:      Mine
Portuguese: Minha (a snarl that ends as a growl)
Spanish:    Mio  (more hiss in the snarl than in English)

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

Which is where you went wrong, because all those languages are indo-european and descended from a common source, in this case the proto-indo-european *meino-. You may have an interesting thought on the body language that accompanies the word, though. Being descended from apes we do still behave a lot like them with, for example laughter. Ever seen an ape laugh? They do it quite a bit when they're introducing themselves to a group, sort of a "here's my big teeth, now you know what's here, we can all be friends" thing. We smile at each other as a sign of friendship but everything outside the higher primates sees that baring of teeth as a threat.

But, in the end, I think I'd say that it's purely a coincidence that "mine" appears to create a similar body-language to a dog protecting its favourite bone. Other words produce a similar facial expression when emphasised (sigh, fly, hero, bike, light etc. ad nauseum) but one wouldn't say they were based on the same thought.

jamesd on September 30, 2010, 06:31:16 am

I only checked English, Dutch, French,German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

English:   Mine
Dutch:     Mijn (snarl with a bit of a sneer in it)
French:    Mine
German:   Meins
Italian:      Mine
Portuguese: Minha (a snarl that ends as a growl)
Spanish:    Mio  (more hiss in the snarl than in English)

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

Which is where you went wrong, because all those languages are indo-european and descended from a common source, in this case the proto-indo-european *meino-.

I therefore checked a non indo european language - see above


Roland on September 30, 2010, 06:38:41 am
it's no coincidence dogs and humans do understand each other so well... For the evolution of dogs is the result of a symbiotic connection between wolves and humans. Dogs do understand human nonverbal communication a lot better than wolves - or cats (although cat friends will disagree, but the human-cat-relationship is a history of happy misunderstanding).

J Thomas on September 30, 2010, 06:51:53 am

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

Which is where you went wrong, because all those languages are indo-european and descended from a common source, in this case the proto-indo-european *meino-.

I therefore checked a non indo european language - see above

You make a collection of points.

People can feel intensely possessive. Yes.
That feeling is very important and has ramifications throughout the society. Yes.
The details of body language influenced the form of language at a basic level. Maybe. Probably not important if it is true.

The details you provide for that last are not convincing. You gave one different language which does things so differently that you called on subliminal similarities.

And what about words like "ours"? Very different feel.

There's no more reason for the shape of words to resemble the body language they mimic than for the shape of proteins to resemble the RNA they are formed from. And yet you could be right. Maybe more languages would give better evidence. Just because the evidence you have given is weak doesn't make you wrong. And you could be right even if there's no way to prove it.

And your fundamental points stand. Possessiveness has been one of the central things for humans and for prehumans. It shows up in our body language and in our language, whatever the link between those two forms of expression.

Archonix on September 30, 2010, 12:34:10 pm

I only checked English, Dutch, French,German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

English:   Mine
Dutch:     Mijn (snarl with a bit of a sneer in it)
French:    Mine
German:   Meins
Italian:      Mine
Portuguese: Minha (a snarl that ends as a growl)
Spanish:    Mio  (more hiss in the snarl than in English)

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

Which is where you went wrong, because all those languages are indo-european and descended from a common source, in this case the proto-indo-european *meino-.

I therefore checked a non indo european language - see above



The relationship breaks down quite quickly the more non-indo-european languages you used at the start of your argument. Hungarian for "mine" is "enyém", which produces a completely different facial expresison when emphasised. Equally the indo-european languages scots gaelic (leamsa) and Romanian (al meu) produce different facial expressions. In Korean you would say naegeot, and the slavic languages all use variations of mój. It's an interesting idea, but it's not got much basis in reality when you consider a world-wide (as opposed to indo-european + exampless-that-fit) linguistic perspective.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 12:43:37 pm by Archonix »

stsparky on September 30, 2010, 01:05:21 pm
"Mine!" is different in Japanese ...

As to music - I remember chimps drum when they recreate.

jamesd on September 30, 2010, 02:59:09 pm
The details you provide for that last are not convincing. You gave one different language which does things so differently that you called on subliminal similarities.


All of the indo european languages have undergone vowel shifts - yet when the vowels shifted, the word "mine" changed to preserve an expression that a dog could lip read and a sound a dog could understand.

Quote
And what about words like "ours"? Very different feel.

Of course it has a different feel.  "ours" is said to someone who also owns it, "mine" is said to someone who does not own it.   It is supposed to have a different feel.

Quote
There's no more reason for the shape of words to resemble the body language they mimic than for the shape of proteins to resemble the RNA they are formed from.

Myself, under threat, I revert to more primitive forms of communication, which is a pretty good reason for the shape of words to resemble those.

Archonix on September 30, 2010, 03:25:51 pm
Do some more research and write a paper on it. Despite what I think it might well be worth pursuing. :)

wdg3rd on October 01, 2010, 01:01:44 am

I only checked English, Dutch, French,German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

English:   Mine
Dutch:     Mijn (snarl with a bit of a sneer in it)
French:    Mine
German:   Meins
Italian:      Mine
Portuguese: Minha (a snarl that ends as a growl)
Spanish:    Mio  (more hiss in the snarl than in English)

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

Which is where you went wrong, because all those languages are indo-european and descended from a common source, in this case the proto-indo-european *meino-. [/quote]

I therefore checked a non indo european language - see above
[/quote]

Which non-Indo-European language did you check?  Nothing listed in your messages or elsewhere in the thread, it was all (western) European, nothing slavic or baltic to cover even some minor variants.  (And while my polish/russian and lithuanian are a bit weak, La Esposa parses both lingos quite well) (I do well enough with a dictionary, it just takes me longer, I don't speak much welsh or gaelic either).
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

jamesd on October 01, 2010, 04:52:34 am
The relationship breaks down quite quickly the more non-indo-european languages you used at the start of your argument. Hungarian for "mine" is "enyém", which produces a completely different facial expresison when emphasised.

I don't think Hungarian has a word directly equivalent to "mine".  Does "enyém" make sense as a one word sentence? 

To test the hypothesis for non indo european languages, you need a native speaker who can say what is idiomatic - who can tell us what a Hungarian kid would say when he found another kid eating his chips.  Would a Hungarian say "enyém" in that circumstance?. 


Equally the indo-european languages scots gaelic (leamsa) and Romanian (al meu) produce different facial expressions. In Korean you would say naegeot,

No. In Korean you would not say naegeot, which inclines me to doubt your other claims.  Naegeot does not translate to "mine" - indeed there is no simple translation of "mine" in Korean any more than there is in Vietnamese.  In Vietnamese, the idiom sounds like cua, which is short for "valuable property me".


jamesd on October 06, 2010, 04:40:45 am

I only checked English, Dutch, French,German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

English:   Mine
Dutch:     Mijn (snarl with a bit of a sneer in it)
French:    Mine
German:   Meins
Italian:      Mine
Portuguese: Minha (a snarl that ends as a growl)
Spanish:    Mio  (more hiss in the snarl than in English)

It looks to me that children are born already knowing the word - innate knowledge being the obvious explanation of the fact that the word is fairly uniform across all the languages I checked.

Which is where you went wrong, because all those languages are indo-european and descended from a common source, in this case the proto-indo-european *meino-.

I therefore checked a non indo european language - see above

Which non-Indo-European language did you check? 

Re read.

In my first post I wrote:
Quote
ut what about languages with no word for "mine"?

The one word sentence "Mine!" does not directly and literally translate into Chinese or Vietnamese - it is unidiomatic in those languages

In Vietnamese, if someone was trying to swipe your spring rolls at a feast, you would very likely say "cua", which means something like "valuable property".  This is short for the complete sentence "valuable property me", which means both that this is my property, and that I value this property highly - which is pretty much what the single word sentence "Mine" means in English.

"Cua", when pronounced slowly and emphatically by a Vietnamese, looks and sounds very like "mine" when pronounced slowly and emphatically.  One pulls back ones lips from both ones upper and lower canine teeth, and the sound is pretty much a snarl.  When you are reading someone's lips, they look the same.  Compare with"Cheeeeese".  With cheeeese, you do not open your mouth as much, and you keep your lower canines pretty much covered.