cdave: (Comics)
Subtitle: Juxtapositions. Or two things make a post.

I've been catching up some old Radiolab podcasts, and I've just finished listening to the episode Words.

This episode concerns four people or groups of people, who at some point have no language, and then later acquire it, and the changes that follow.

I'd read about the formation of creoles and sign languages before in some popular science book or another. The founders tend to have very simple structure, but children raised in that environment later develop a more complex grammar. What the Radiolab episode added was that this places certain limits on the founders' thought process, but if the next generation teach the adults their new structure, the adults can learn new ways of thinking.

Another interesting aspect is that toddlers who are able to speak, but are not yet able to form noun phrases like "on the LEFT of the BLUE WALL", have the same difficulty solving certain spatial puzzles as rats.

Then the episode finished, and the very next podcast was Flowers for Algernon.

Every piece of research in the Radiolab episode happened after Daniel Keyes wrote Flowers for Algernon, yet it fits so well as a response to that episode.

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cdave

May 2017

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