Wednesday, August 18, 2004

On Whether Language Was Acquired A Priori or A Posteriori

Did man first acquire language a priori or a posteriori? It would have been somewhat a posteriori if it were acquired through observations on animals and the way they used sounds to communicate. But are animal sounds themselves sufficient to be categorized as language? In so much as animals are able to communicate with distinct sounds, they still lack the sophistication and complexity that make up a human language.

I would suppose that early men with smaller brain volume communicated with each other quite similarly with the way the animals did. So at some point throughout human evolution when brain volume increased, sound communication grew in sophistication and complexity and it eventually became a language.

Now. How inevitable it was for the sound communication to have evolved into a language? It would have been inevitable if any animal species could develop a language without failure were their brain volume increased accordingly. It would not have been necessarily inevitable if but one animal species failed to develop a language eventhough their brain volume were increased accordingly; in which case man first acquired language most likely a priori....

Of course, brain volume might not have been the only determining factor in the sound-communication-to-language transformation, but surely it has got to have been one of the most important ones. Such transformation begs another question.

That is, whether the precise point in time where sound communication became language was a leap - meaning, it would seem unexpected that the transformation happened at that stage - or whether it was an expected and forseeable stage given patterns of the previous progression.

Would it then be accurate to say, that language acquisition was a priori irrespective of brain volume if the first point were the case, or that language acquisition was a posteriori irrespective of brain volume if the second point were the case? Fxs


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