Hostile mimicry

Life on this Earth has been acquainted with hostility, and similarity also in that. Terms ■→Batesian and ■→Müllerian are for ■→butterfly semblance in deterrent coloration — which yet may become another’s lesson, with a degree of self-denial. To choose on learning experience awarely: would observations on ■→mimetism apply to languages?

Predators often ■→sample to learn. They try the unpalatable bit, to stay away from it forever, having nibbled on the gerevolution. But they do not, as animals altogether do not, have language. Animal learning is in the experience, even if deadly or at least unpleasant, to pattern after activity.

People do have language. All human knowledge uses language — you’d be an incredible picture, to lecture on mathematics without it. Importantly, humans acquire and learn languages in ways individual, and generate speech: in creating own discourse, we never merely ■→mimic other people.

Though it could be fun to observe on a behaviorist for an “armchair theory” — would a man sit like a woman, or a woman like a man — mimetic theories belong with ■→behaviorism, where speech and language are “verbal behavior” to become “reinforced through the mediation of other persons”.


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Notes for Emily Dickinson’s poetry

Fascicles and print, the poetic correlative with Webster 1828, Latin and Greek inspiration, an Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity. More

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■→Burrhus Frederic Skinner wrote in ■→his book,
Much of the time, however, a man acts only indirectly upon the environment from which the ultimate consequences of his behavior emerge. His first effect is upon other men. Instead of going to a drinking fountain, a thirsty man may simply “ask for a glass of water” — that is, may engage in behavior which produces a certain pattern of sounds which in turn induces someone to bring him a glass of water.

A behaviorist would hold speech and language for manipulative behavior. Speech induces; it is an indirect way to act on the environment, and other men are to experience the first effect.

A psycholinguist has a speech act for overt behavior. If we speak with someone or to them, we direct our words. There being a drinking fountain nearby, one man is probably unwell, to ask another person for water. The request is an opening for verbal interaction, and the other person may decide to help, having been the listener rather than a listener, which follows.

B.F. Skinner continues,
The sounds themselves are easy to describe in physical terms; but the glass of water reaches the speaker only as the result of a complex series of events including the behavior of a listener. The ultimate consequence, the receipt of water, bears no useful geometrical or mechanical relation to the form of the behavior of “asking for water”. Indeed, it is characteristic of such behavior that it is impotent against the physical world. Rarely do we shout down the walls of Jericho or successfully command the sun to stop or the waves to be still. Names do not break bones. The consequences of such behavior are mediated by a train of events no less physical or inevitable than direct mechanical action, but clearly more difficult to describe.

A behaviorist has physics for terms of strength, even violence. Words are “impotent” because they do not break bones or bring walls down. The ultimate consequence for human interaction belongs within the strict time span to obtain the desired object, water. The behaviorist interest is only in “making that other fellow” bring the object, and he perceives words for a way, since there is no useful geometry or mechanics. Words are “easy”, but “moving the other fellow” is more difficult; still, volition on the part of the person who brings help is excluded from the picture: obtaining water is a mediated consequence.

A psycholinguist perceives also language arts, therefore describing words in Hertz is never all the picture. Physics is a science to describe the natural world; it also may be an interesting book (feel welcome to my ■→Simple English Aristotle). Verbal appeal is important: fortunately, competition for its own sake hardly happens, and people get along better, able to communicate as well as enjoy one another’s company, with good language skill.


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If there is anyone interested in ■→Thomas Taylor’s dissertation on Aristotle, moving people about is not really necessary, because the Earth is turning.

Joke emoticon

Let us return to Mr. Skinner.
Behavior which is effective only through the mediation of other persons has so many distinguishing dynamic topographical properties that a special treatment is justified and, indeed, demanded. Problems raised by this special mode of action are usually assigned to the field of speech and language. Unfortunately, the term speech emphasizes vocal behavior and is only awkwardly applied to instances in which the mediating person is affected visually, as in writing a note.

A behaviorist would describe language in terms of brain properties strictly, exclusive of personality. Writing a note can mean also creating content, whereas the behaviorist would perceive a “mediating person”, to be “visually affected”, if perceptive of own handwriting. To propose a “special mode”, the behaviorist does not care for responsibility; problems would be “assigned” to another field: behaviorism is not linguistics. Language itself would have no appeal to the behaviorist; it is “effective only through mediation of other persons”, as to get things.

Behaviorist experiments have been usually plainly cruel and absolutely devoid of sense. ■→McNamara, ■→Edgewood, ■→Ketchum and his “human machine”.

This might bring up associations with the Edgewood Baker Unit: there has been a Brennan, also a famous Irish baker name, purportedly brought out of a coma with a phrase by a commander. I do not know about any lexical access that brings out of coma. Military.com, ■→Waking a soldier from a coma. In case, I’d rather note that even ■→Khrushchev or ■→Lenin did not have such ideas. YouTube has the story, too.

A psycholinguist knows that language cannot be explained in terms of tissue, and brain network functions are not delimited to locales (■→Brains, parameters, and devices), but it does not mean a psycholinguist believes in working medical miracles with words. To return to considering Mr. Skinner’s claims — own language activity integrates brain function; it can be pleasure without other people (it can be me time). However, no special modes could bring reliable results for natural speech and writing.

Let us end reading the two paragraphs from Mr. Skinner’s initial chapter.
“Language” is now satisfactorily remote from its original commitment to vocal behavior, but it has come to refer to the practices of a linguistic community rather than the behavior of any one member. The adjective “linguistic” suffers from the same disadvantage.

Speaking a language does not make anyone part any community, and there cannot be language behavior without individual persons. The behaviorist would construct a “me world” in which there would not be requirement for objectivity: natural language has never become remote from vocal behavior, and speech loss is not likely to become synonymous with satisfaction. On this side, the behaviorist would be undecided, to declare a state “satisfactory” with a noun for a disadvantage with an adjective.

The term “verbal behavior” has much to recommend it. Its etymological sanction is not too powerful, but it emphasizes the individual speaker and, whether recognized by the user or not, specifies behavior shaped and maintained by mediated consequences. It also has the advantage of being relatively unfamiliar in traditional modes of explanation.

I do not think I’d be buying the book. Putting words in phrases does not change word origins, and both the adjective verbal and the noun behavior have had some tradition. People may disagree, disapprove, and criticize, but there hardly would be anyone not to recognize phrases they use. Unfamiliar wording is never likely to produce a veil of mystery dense enough to deflect rational thinking: and my mind is telling me the book was written without any understanding for language. Well, natural language is not mimicry, but a bad butterfly may happen.

Joke emoticon

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The world may never have seen her original handwriting, if her skill was taken for supernatural. Feel welcome to Poems by Emily Dickinson prepared for print by Teresa Pelka: thematic stanzas, notes on the Greek and Latin inspiration, the correlative with Webster 1828, and the Aristotelian motif, Things perpetual — these are not in time, but in eternity.

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Świat może i nigdy nie widział jej oryginalnego pisma, jeśli jej umiejętność została wzięta za nadnaturalną. Zapraszam do Wierszy Emilii Dickinson w przekładzie Teresy Pelka: zwrotka tematyczna, notki o inspiracji greką i łaciną, korelacie z Websterem 1828 oraz wątku arystotelesowskim, Rzecz perpetualna — ta nie zasadza się na czasie, ale na wieczności.

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