But things out there need to act on the brain, no?


Uta Frith

Uta Frith: “What is the role of language? When we consider social interactions this almost always involves language. Is language actually the primary driver of our social interactions, or is it the other way round?”

Kristian Tylen: ” … My preference is to think that language both evolves from and is shaped by our interactions with the surrounding physical and social environment.  And so it is out there rather than inside us. This is demonstrated by the way that language structures are motivated. Take the way we talk about pitch  In English and Danish: We talk about low and high pitch mapping onto low and high spatial notation. Other languages for instance use thick and thin or big and small. These relations all map onto universal experience. Low tones come from big creatures and high tones from small creatures. And it turns out that it is very difficult to learn the opposite relations.”

Uta Frith: “But things out there need to act on the brain, no?  I don’t disagree with you that the world outside the mind is a starting point, but the experience of the outside shaped the inside, over millenia.  As a consequence, I guess there are some pre-shaped circuits in the brain, which might become obsolete, if  the environment changed radically.  So this is why I would put the outside in second place, and the inside first.”

Source: Putting Language into the Social BrainSocial Minds: A Piece of the Frithmind.

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