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Unlocking the secret sounds of language. (link taken from [livejournal.com profile] alphabet_soup)

This is so cool.

Date: 2006-05-07 12:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] worldserpent.livejournal.com
Actually, what is perhaps weirder than their lack of numbers, is the fact that they don't abstract, don't have things like colors, and even weirder is their lack of narratives and myths.

Date: 2006-05-07 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fable.livejournal.com
*nodsss* It's one of the strangest things I've ever heard of. I go through a mini existential crisis every time I try to picture it.

Date: 2006-05-07 09:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] worldserpent.livejournal.com
It makes you wonder. Did humans always live this way before the advent of agriculture? Yet other hunter gatherer tribes do have history and things like genealogy.

Date: 2006-05-09 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fable.livejournal.com
*nods* And the existence of cave drawings shows that other hunter gatherer tribes did have things like colors & numbers & narratives.

I don't really get how this tribe is possible, honestly. The lack of seasons where they live ensures that they won't have to save for food to get them through the winter months, so I suppose that survival wouldn't be a problem, and if you don't notice/pay attention to colors you're more likely to notice light & shadows & be able to detect camouflage, so that might actually help them in their hunting. But if you only live in the now, the minute a person disappears from your view they're as good as dead until they appear again, how can you form lasting bonds, especially familial ones? How do kids get taken care of, especially when things get difficult? (Looked up the wikipedia article and it said that they had the simplest known kinship system, but I have a hard time seeing how even that is possible.) How has the tribe itself survived so long with so little to cohere it?

It's also cool to think about just how much of a group's culture and customs are reflected in their language, that culture & language aren't distinct things. (I know that I see things/think a little differently, depending on what language I'm using, and I wonder just how far that goes.) And there's also the connected idea that a person's culture/language can limit cognition, and not just in a "I don't want to do this because I think it's useless and so not cool" way, but in a "There's no possible way I can do this" way, and at a very fundamental level too.

Date: 2006-05-09 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] worldserpent.livejournal.com
Indeed. In another article I read, it said that they don't draw either (do they do music?). Of course, the society that produced the cave paintings was actually fairly complex, but still other tribes in the Amazon do have myths and lineage and such.

I think it's not so much that they don't notice color, just that they don't have abstraction. But the article also clearly shows that they are able to plan, because at one point they were paid by a trader to off the anthropologist, and were discussing how to kill him.

Perhaps there is some kind of neurological time-table for learning about numbers, and the reason the adults can't learn is because they missed it?


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