Specializations > Historical Linguistics

Man vs. Beast

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Have you seen Dan Jurafsky's work on event structure in computational models? I saw an interesting talk a few years ago by him that described, for example, the event structure of a fire-- the initial smoke/flames, the call to emergency services, the arrival of the fire trucks, the news reporters showing up, etc.

Actually, I've never met Dan, but I keep thinking that I should.  We have a lot of mutual acquaintances.  Anyway, I haven't read the work you are referring to, but I have heard good things about him.  Unfortunately, I no longer have any affiliation that would give me access to academic materials.

You might find a few things on his website:

I haven't looked into this for a few years for exactly what is the best overview, but I think there's information around if you're just curious.

Interesting thread, I think we could understand 'cat' or any other animal (that uses sound we can hear and gestures), to a large degree we do understand 'cat' when it comes to both gestures and sounds, dogs as well, partly because both of these animals have evolved alongside us as companions.

If we would live the life of a cat with the needs that a cat has and the understanding that a cat has of what it is to be a cat, then we might understand the language that a cat has as well. Some of the language, I think, is set in the fundamental structure of what it is to be a cat, and we need that foundation to build the language and to understand it.

I've finally figured this all out but nobody can believe me. 

This is really simple but it flies in the face of everything we believe we know and it wholly contradicts limited areas of what we call "linguistics".  We can't speak "Cat" because the formatting for our language changed in ~2000 BC.  Humans have a somewhat more complex language than other species because there was a mutation 40,000 years ago that tied our speech center more closely to higher brain functions.  But this mutation didn't directly cause more complex language simply because humans are not significantly more "intelligent" than other species.  Rather, people became capable of communicating with one another and the cooperation allowed the advancement of their primitive "science" based on observation and the logical formatting of their animal yet increasingly complex language. 

Like ALL ANIMAL language this language was metaphysical.  Words were representative rather than symbolic and meaning was tied to what was already known.  there were no "definitions" since every word had a fixed meaning.  Because the language contained all human knowledge it had to change and adapt as more was learned and it became increasingly complex.  People "think" in language and as their's became more complex fewer people could master it and new language arose for those who were otherwise tongue-tied.  The new pidgin languages used the exact same vocabulary but there was no longer any tie to reality or the formatting of the four dimensional brain that created language.  You could say literally anything in these modern languages.  Ancient Language obeyed a strict formatting that kept it tied to observation and logic EXACTLY like animal languages.  This is why we must teach English to animals to communicate.  The change from metaphysical to pidgin language is one way.  We can model animal languages but to so we must understand what they know and how they know it!  We can even decipher some of it to a limited extent and this has been begun with "Prairie Dog'. 


There is one HUGE difference between animal language and human language besides the fact that we all think in terms of language so animal "thought" is logical and logic can't even be expressed in modern language because all statement can be deconstructed. 

This difference is that there are no words for "thought" because animals don't experience consciousness in this way.  There are no words for "belief" because animals have no use for "belief", only knowledge.  There are no taxonomies because animals don't use such terms as mnemonics.  They have other types of mnemonics.   They have no words for reductionism because such ideas lie outside of logic and observation.  Ancient Language breaks Zipf's Law for all of these reasons. 

There is a common denominator to these words.  Animals don't use or understand abstraction.  We use abstraction to try to understand animals and then when we do discover a word we start parsing them.  But the difference in formatting between Ancient Language and modern languages means that translation is impossible.  Even the vocabulary is different because the nature of words in the two languages is different.  We can only model and interpret Ancient Languages and other "animal" languages because they are wholly dissimilar to our own but very similar in many ways to each other. 


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