3. The role of feedback in language use

The human brain remains of reference for feedback processes in language use, since neither linguistic competence nor linguistic performance are mere abstract entities but are mediated by the physical structure of the human brain (Puppel, 1992). Program and feedback to be compared for neuro-behavioral priority in self-preservation, universalist tendencies in linguistics are analyzed with concern to natural language permanence and standards. Linguistic behavior to require the physical parameter of speech and writing, human sensory processing opens the consideration of the role of feedback in language use.

3.1. Sensory signal processing by the brain

Human brains work on sensory signal in a parallel distributed manner. Receptors convert impulses into graded and action potentials to be sent to input consolidating areas in the brain. The biological code the brain operates during processing differs materially from the input signal with which it corresponds. Integrating inputs, the brain does not translate the processing code back into the stimulus quality, compound brain codes to account for perception (Vander et al., 1985).

The difference between a sensory impulse and a transmission code compares with that between a sensory alteration and perception. Afferent impulses of no conscious correlate most often become discarded, the term perception to apply to conscious recognition from neural input. Signal transfer in the brain is inseparable from signal interpretation, relayed processing to mean signal split into aspects communicable to specific neural sets (ibidem).

For visual processing, lateral geniculate nuclei act as relay centers that assist focus. Inputs from retinal distinctive sites reach specialized brain destinations simultaneously. Frontal lobes integrate information on object identity to have arrived via the temporal tissues; object spatial component has inputs from the occipital and parietal areas.

The nuclei support the thalamic function, brainstem and cerebellar patterns to help eye and head coordination, fixation of gaze, and pupil constriction. Pupillary response can be an indicator for processing workload (Zimmer, 1993). Relayed processing grants cognitive function independence from motor behavior, thinking not to require bodily movement for path validation.

All sensory modalities are processed in parallel distributed manner. Inclusive of language, human feedback connectivity for sensory processing can be presented as in Figure 5.

Figure 5. A general model for feedback connectivity in sensory signal processing, inclusive of language (compare Vander et al., 1985).

Figure 5. Sensory processing by the brain inclusive of language

Distributed processing requires precise synchronization for input reassembly. Of the cortical structures to synchronize signals, angular gyri neighbor on brain visual, auditory, as well as tactile specialized locales. The gyri are notable in object identification and naming (Puppel, 1992). The distributed manner uses multiple feedback pathways, afferent sites to favor proximity with efferent capacities.

Visual focus emerges with ontogenetically acquired re-afference, learned in feedback with the vestibular system and brain neural schemata for postural balance, the related efference to be  in control of situationally relevant bodily movement, beside the capability for eye closing or opening. Active palpation to coalesce with tactile receptiveness, hearing is unique in its use of efferent pathways of no learned component. The paths project from the brainstem to the cochlea and end on both the hair cells and afferent terminals. The function is not certain; surgically deprived animals were impeded in discriminating audio frequencies, as well as signal sound from noise. Ancillary mechanisms for isolating signal from background might work also in humans (Vander et al., 1985).

3.2. Pathway length and efficiency

Parietal inner and outer regions may attract thought, with respect to neural path length and speed or scope of transfer. The outer areas neighbor on primary sensory cytostructures directly. The inner work on modality compound data, for pattern identification and also permanence. Inner parietal integration affords a relatively constant sense for verticality, sustained in head changed positions. Parieto-limbic linkage can result in highly processed signal of emotional eminence (Vander et al, 1984).

Looping with the thalamus and the amygdalae as well, limbic paths may alter homeostasis, decision making, memory, and lexical access (ibidem). “Emotional hijacks” would suggest an ability by the brain to establish “express” links in response to psychological or physical pressure (in Goleman, 1997). There is yet no “emotional system” in the brain, and override on frontal scopes eventuates limitation on intellectual and linguistic aptness, denying terms of advantage.

Quillian’s experiments on semantic processing implied pathway length for directly proportional to the time of signal interpretation. Reflection on human processing yet solicited varied “weight”, for individual nodes in his network models for memory (Kurcz, 1992). In the light, the “rule of force” as in Puppel (1992) invites a reservation on behavior priority as instructed with statistics: potential for behavior universality continues to inspire disputes among psychologists and physicians (Goleman, 1997).

3.3. The speech act

Particular loci of the neural command for language production neuro-motor sequences have not been, and may further remain undiscerned, owing to individuality factors. For signal to accord the afferent information on articulator status, a preparatory effort on the part of relevant feedback faculties is indispensable. A motor pattern can be chosen and implemented only upon integration of the command and afferent variables (Vander et al., 1985; Puppel, 1992).

The neocortex communicates with articulator muscles via multineuronal pathways, cerebral and corticospinal. Cerebral paths loop the neocortex and the brainstem, basal ganglia, and cerebellum. Corticospinal axons end directly on the alpha and gamma motor neurons, and interneurons (Puppel, 1988). They also may branch on afferent neurons presynaptically, the influence on ascending information to enhance focus on the concurrent act (Vander et al., 1985).

Speech segments are effected in a part open-loop fashion, as can be observed in slips of tongue. Undistorted, segmental restriction on neural programming adds to speaker swiftness and accuracy (Puppel, 1992). Articulatory plans are managed neocortically, via the cerebellum. Cerebral cortex logical functioning can direct multineuronal feedback to negotiate inefficient sequences in real-time. Natural circumstances and linguistic skill allow flawless language, despite pre-articulatory modification or replacement.

Ladefoged experiments on change in speaker feedback control (in Puppel, 1988) proved of influence on the realization phase without exception. Alteration in auditory feedback induced divergence in pitch, or vowel lengths and qualities. Inhibited tactile, kinesthetic, or proprioceptive feedback slowed articulatory movement, provoking muscle compensatory effort. Exophasia is not the sole brain function for language.

3.4. Inner speech

Following the articulatory advancement of egocentric speech, inner speech has been described as proceeding considerably faster than locution (Jurkowski, 1986; Pazukhin, 1996/97). Stipulated to build on reduced neural conveyance, the sense to be “compact” rather than “limited” (Pazukhin, 1996/97), endophasia would use brain associative linkage for audible speech.

Autoreflection on endophasia (ibidem) reports speech organ trace activity to accompany thought, in reading or writing. The engagement to derive from centrifugal patterns for exophasia, the spontaneous feedback exercise is not bound to occur, also in the same persons and contexts. As declarative and procedural interplay, endophasia affirms on network heterarchic function (Puppel, 1992), “top-down” as well as “bottom-up” interactions to make the operative mode.

Figure 6. Network symbolic and sub-symbolic heterarchic interaction, a schematic view.

Figure 6. Neural network heterarchic mode

By standard, speech, writing, and reading become integrated in early years of human life, language to make a considerable proportion of human thinking matter as well: all education involves verbal externalization. Orienting responses of linguistic component can help illustrate feedback prominence in the inner language faculty.

3.5. Orienting response of linguistic component

Patterns for individual reaction to novelty are known as orienting responses. Observable in EEG tests, brain response activity has been part ascribed to thalamic pacemaker structures. The nuclei reconcile on thalamic feedback with brain excitatory and inhibitory neurons (Vander et al., 1985). The faster, beta brain waves arise with focused attention, likely to be accompanied by a slowed heart rate, cranial blood vessel relative dilatation, and pupil enlargement. Focus may, yet does not have to bring motor activity in humans (ibidem).

Unlike in behaviorist frameworks for stimulation, natural orienting responses help isolate meaningful variables also in silent study. Wojtaszek (1993) postulated a neural mismatch detection filter, a notion as a novelty detector to have been supported by Vander and others (1985). Mismatch or novelty, discernment employs feedback with memory established patterns, the cortical elaboration to engage the thalamus and basal ganglia. The hippocampus, amygdala, and diencephalon will be part in cognitive correlate formation for the percept (Vander et al., 1985). The cerebellum will sustain readiness for verbal rehearsal, or note making. The functions are part labile and use intrinsic feedback.

Visual perception alone exercises extensive cerebral feedback. Beatty and Schluroff found semantic incoherence override syntactic correctness, the pupilometric curve for semantically distorted sequences to approximate that for incidentally structured chunks (in Zimmer, 1993). Neural schemata permanence comes forward, in the light to feedback prominence in the inner faculty.

2.6. Module autonomy theories

Human minds have been speculated to form “units of knowledge” (in Szewczuk, 1984) or “modules” (Fodor, in Kurcz, 1992). The “units” would have been impermeable to other central processes, “module autonomy” to induce “automatic” percepts (ibidem). Auditory experiments by Richard and Roslyn Warren (in Grabowska, 1995) requested volunteer evaluation on masked audio formants. The persons reported speech sounds, however, also when informed about substitutions.

Among neural formations for language, the individual schema might correspond with a notion as a gnostic unit. The feedback process to encourage speech sounds for masked time intervals in consciously evaluated audio as well would yet affirm that language perception is interschematic (in Puppel, 1992). The “cocktail party effect” (in Grabowska, 1995) may further highlight on the neocortex interschematic function as able to guide selective focus, in associating word shape and sense.

Part the modularity argument came with opinion on language learning “critical age”. The interschematic function would yet act throughout lifespan, in co-articulatory adjustment (in Puppel, 1992). Further, “language switch” phonological assimilation might be observed about multilingual persons who progress into proficient study of language. Past maturation, the persons remain more than likely to develop allophonic variants that are hardly perceivable to people unaware of the process. Graphemic variance also might occur, with a study of phonetic transcription.

Since it is linguistic practice to prove human language learning and use as conceptually motivated (Puppel, 1988), universalist theories on language can be explored, for the matter of linguistic permanence. Universals are posited to hold for all natural languages.

2.7. Language universalist theories

Regard to human linguistic permanence as joint with versatility has positioned nativism and empiricism at the extremes of “the black box” and “the blank slate”. Deliberation on probability for language universals has inspired conflicting approaches as well, the Cartesian and Leibnizian ventures to have become vitally counter-indicative.

Anna Wierzbicka (1999), an acknowledged Polish Leibnizian, proposed a limited set of lexical items for “semantic primitives”. She stated her “units of meaning” were universal, and elementary as not yielding to “semantic decomposition”. The primitives were to form a “natural semantic metalanguage”, the word list for all human languages to have about sixty items, inclusive of the first person singular I (Polish ja), the second person singular or plural you (Polish ty or wy), and the English lexeme word (Polish słowo).

Contrast to the approach may come with the psycholinguistic view to meaning as a real-time process (in Igor Burkhanov, 1998). The word sense for the English pronoun you becomes resolved in context, the word shape to be potentially polysemous in Polish. The spoken form to matter in all natural languages, English has shapes homophonous with the first person singular I, as eye, or aye. Further, English personal pronoun objective and dative cases allow inclusion of syntactic valence with the lexical field (ibidem).

First person singular Polish lexical items, mi, mnie, and mną differ from English in syntactic valence, owing to the pro-drop parameter for Polish. In context, the parameter allows interpreting the phrase Ja nie wiem for It is not me to know, when compared with the dropped pronoun phrase Nie wiem, I don’t know. Polish verb conjugation to convey the person (respectively, wiem, wiesz, wie, wiemy, wiecie, wiedzą), the phrase Ja nie wiem can be a suggestion to turn with the matter to another person.

“Semantic primes” would make a severely impeded vocabulary, the sixty item array to be unlikely in a language learner. “Semantic decomposition” does not persuade as inevitably associate to word sense reduction. Finally, lexeme experiential fields vary among languages as well. The English lexical item word would correspond with the Hebrew davar that collocates closely with representations for motion and deed. In the psyche of a Greek, logos may connote reckoning as well as gathering (Kubiński, 1999). The concept of a “natural metalanguage” can be discussed with reference to Cartesian linguistics.

René Descartes stated that human language differed from animal communication: it was not explicable in terms of stimuli or mechanics. He reasoned his existence depended on his thought; consciousness allowed him to perceive own being and thus to be. His ideas influenced linguists to include Noam Chomsky (Akmajian et al., 1984). Descartes body-mind duality yet may be questioned, since the physical structure of the human brain is indispensable for perceivable language and thought.

Cartesian and Leibnizian stands differ in metalinguistic analysis essentially. The generative approach describes metalanguage as knowledge on language structure and content. Majority of language speakers are capable of telling nouns from verbs, or commenting on word collocations. Anna Wierzbicka attributes universal meaning to a non-representative set that avoids basic spatial percepts or temporal reference, as up, down, or the present, past, and future. Natural language universals may become actuality only with human cognition.

2.8. Feedback phenomena and cognition

A universal cognitive process would be one of prevalence representative of the species. Sense for own body position and posture might claim such prevalence in humans. Skeletal, mechanoreceptor, vestibular, and kinesthetic sense data are only component in human orientation for own body in physical space (Vander et al., 1985). Humans naturally build cognitive maps, the skill to be for intellectively operating on spatial parameters of the environment (Puppel, 1996). The cognitive map or cognitive maps into which a person organizes aspects of experience contribute to his or her mental reality, that is, inner representation for own self in the world. The competence has been proposed for constituent in the individual ego (Damasio, 2000).

Ontogenetically, the primary notions of up and down would ensue after those for the front and back. The vertical axis and the horizontal plane to make elementary percepts, linguistic evidence has encouraged the term of spatialization (Maciejewski, 1996): unconnected natural languages have been found to project part the lexemic scope for space on expressions that reflect on time, before and after to make typical examples in English.

The horizontal plane would preponderate for time expressions in Polish or Fula, the vertical axis to be prominent in Chinese, probably after the movement of the Sun (ibidem). Locomotion to have bolstered the horizontal mark for time also in English, Miller and Johnson-Laird stated, The intimate relation of space and time concepts is most apparent in motion, which involves both spatial and temporal changes (in Puppel, 1992). A culture-independent core of experience is yet improbable (Maciejewski, 1996), and also basic discernment, as for up and down, or on and in, may depart in notionality between languages, to compare the English phrase in the street and the Polish na ulicy (“on the street”).

Of controversial approaches to the language standard, Lev Vygotsky attempted to view human consciousness, language, and behavior with reference to reflex activity, for permanence. In Vygotsky’s perspective, speech would inspire consciousness and thus the society, that to have a potential to affect speech in turn.

Figure 7. Vygotskian society, speech, and consciousness (compare Pazukhin, 1996/97).
Figure 7. Vygotskian model

Speech, consciousness, or society yet do not exist as strictly abstract thought. Knowledge of natural language cannot be asserted without the human praxic intellect to have linguistic ability, perceived intrapersonally as well as in the physical parameter of speech or writing. The Vygotskian schema thus cannot apply to language standard.

Anthropomorphization of natural language or its programmed development in abstract society would be impracticable, and the human individual becomes necessary at each of the nodes of Figure 7. Therefore, Figure 8 is proposed for a feedback model, cognition to involve competence along with ability to produce intellection, and language to include written discourse.

Figure 8. Feedback model for individual linguistic awareness.

Figure 8. Feedback model

The human ego as in Figure 8 is not to complement psychoanalytic theories of the unconscious: it would be self-induced neural network stochastic actuation in which rather to seek spontaneous linguistic detail. The term ego is to invoke the human person as capable of evolving own language command individually, also with egocentric language, and to suit own preference.

The human person to remain vital for linguistic permanence, Kozielecki (1995) proposed that humans were capable of “notional matrices” to make arbitrary sets; ideas abstract as “triangularity” would result from a “matrix” work in hypothesis forming. Natural language acquisition and learning does involve theory-making and belongs in context with human language standards.

2.9. Language standards development or change

Language can be understood as a human faculty to consist of grammar, semantics, phonology, and graphemics. Written forms of language need to correspond with the phonological component. In the strict sense, animal communication cannot qualify for language: though structured, animal signals lack lexical items and syntax, as well as speech sounds and phonology, thus to be only codes. Machine codes  ascribe their values to words, further falling short of natural language generative and creative features, and thus do not qualify for natural languages either.

Origins of language in the species can be placed in evolutionary perspectives. Genetic and cytostructural properties of the human brain, also with focus to Broca and Wernicke areas, are species-specific. Genetic change yet is not inherent to language, and the exact process may never become known. Individual language learning and practice, as well as new languages development, do not require or bring genetic transformation.

A common root to all languages is unlikely. The Proto-Indo-European study lacks coherence in the lexical scopes for households and people, as used in language classing or grouping. Words as man, woman, child, or house do not show a Proto-Indo-European scope in common, to compare German, French, Russian, and Polish. New natural languages continue emerging on Earth, regardless of “family” labels. Several or at least two languages to have contributed to their form, initially pidgin or Creole tongues happen to become official languages in new country states. Geopolitical conditions may modify governmental recognition of a tongue as a language or a dialect (Comrie et al., 1998). Regard to human faculties will have every dialect for a linguistic entity.

Human writing has had, among others, cuneiform and ideographic notations as of ancient Sumer and Egypt, runes of Scandinavian and Celtic scripts, logographic Chinese, as well as Arabic written representations (ibidem). The Cyrillic to have been widely reported as a conscious human device, the left-to-right linear ordering as also of the Latin alphabetic script has been adapted for most notations. Top-down or right-to-left writing in Chinese or Arabic show that human notation is not universal.

Established language standards are not fixed realities. Urban thriving, trade contact, or cultural and technological progress have been the most influential factors to commend new linguistic devices. Although Latin was brought to many European lands by military formations, English spelling, syntax, and semantics assumed Latin patterns mostly via written resources. Transition from Old to Middle English to have been associated with the Norman invasion, the Great Vowel Shift with its broad range for change within a formed national identity, would have been impossible without persons who spoke, read, and wrote. These always would be circumstances of relative linguistic permanence in which to consider language universals and standards. Diachronic linguistics continues to show developments, over time.


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