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David Fried
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"At its core, language is a means of cooperation between people. It works by constructing shared perceptions through joint attention. More generally, it is a shared system that permits cooperative interactions between people." Exactly right. And at the risk of mere anecdotage, I remember my son, at just three years of age, "helping" to clean up the fallen leaves in the yard. For 45 minutes he maintained, with amazing mimetic success, the engaged tone of a friendly, cooperative adult engaged in a common task. "OK, Dad, I'm moving the garbage can over here. . . That'll make it easier!" The humor, of course, lay in the fact that in that entire time he never succeeded in putting a single leaf in the can that I could see. What fascinated me was that mastery of the linguistic tools that make joint activity possible had been achieved so early, so completely, and so far in advance of the motor and even the attentional skills actually needed for the task. That moment crystallized for me the insight you are expressing here.
Toggle Commented Dec 8, 2010 on This Century is Different at Babel's Dawn
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Dec 7, 2010