Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Great Regulars: Joseph Town, a 19th-century classical sculptor,

also produced astonishing wax skeletons.

Or, almost in our time, there are the exquisite drawings of Aud­rey Arnott. She was the ­medical ­illustrator for the neurosurgeon Hugh Cairns. Her drawings are striking for their anatomical perfection, but also, strangely, for their poignancy. She draws the patients as fully realised characters, a disturbing effect when the brain is almost fully exposed.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Soul Searching


In the case of language, one big argument for this is the speed with which children learn to speak, picking up vocabulary and complex syntax in a few months. Chomsky said this was because we are born with a capacity for a universal grammar, and that, ultimately, all languages could be traced back to this biologically determined form.

Reasonable as this may sound, there is very little--Everett would say there is no--evidence for an inborn universal grammar. There is no "language instinct", as Pinker calls it, because a language is learnt and an instinct, by definition, is not.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Overthrowing Chomsky


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