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[Xmca-l] Re: The Ideal and Nicaraguan Sign Language


I am sorry it took me so long to read the post - I am with Tomasello on
this. I don't think this is evidence for LAD. The LAD has very specific
reference to universal parameters, and the history of theoretical
linguistics in the  last 55 years or so has had to step back and back to
parameter setting so the "universals" are more and more abstract. Perhaps a
linguist on the site could resolve what they are now.  Phonology has the
most developed set.  And how does this relate to communication per se? Can
anybody help? Even the notion of verb-ness and noun-ness as universals are

Pidgins arise when people have a need to communicate; then they become
creoles.  The children and their caretakers had such a need.  We have no
idea how abstract, or signified, when this first began.

In South Africa this happened when mineworkers from all over South Africa
needed to have a common form of communication.  It has never developed to a
creole, because the speakers have their own Bantu languages, and the need
underground is so specific and restricted that there has been no further

ISN has had a very strong motivation to develop. Creoles do become
languages - Jamaican is a case in point. In my situation, Afrikaans can be
regarded as  creoloid, where the mother language - Dutch has been
simplified.  The Afrikaners historically has access to the Bible in High
Dutch, but we know the Bible deals with a wide range of concepts, so
Afrikaans has had to take on board scientific concepts.  There is generally
a "correct" Afrikaans term, and a related word which can be regarded as
closer to English.  Both are included in their lexicon.  The latter
characteristic is part of language planning/development per se.

Perhaps I have seen so much in a multi-linguistic environment, that I see
this as more fluid. I think this is enough for me now - can someone respond?


On 14 October 2014 02:46, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net> wrote:

> Mike has drawn our attention to the Nicaraguan Sign Language
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Sign_Language
> as a counter-example to Vygostsky's claim:
>    "that if no appropriate ideal form can be found in the environment,
>    and the development of the child, for whatever reasons, has to take
>    place outside these specific conditions (described earlier), i.e.
>    without any interaction with the final form, then this proper form
>    will fail to develop properly in the child."
> In my opinion, this once-in-human-history event does not invalidate the
> principle Vygotsky was elaborating. Just like every attempt to say what
> distinguishes the human being from the animal seems to be faulted by the
> latest clip from YouTube, all such absolute claims are almost bound to fail
> at some point. But the principle, illustrated by the fact that children
> growing up in Russia speak Russian and understand the meaning of
> perezhivanie whereas we don't, etc., is hardly faulted by NSL.
> The other thing that Mike suggests is that the principle of the ideal
> being present in the environment carries with it the negation of the idea
> of the social formation itself being subject to continuous change. Again, I
> think Vygotsky just takes this as outside the concerns of Psychology. His
> essay on Socialist Man http://www.marxists.org/
> archive/vygotsky/works/1930/socialism.htm shows that in fact he saw the
> psychology of people as primarily determined by the social formation of
> which they were a part and he saw that social formation as evolving. He was
> of course a modern, albeit I suspect a modern with a considerable capacity
> for irony.
> Now, this raises the difficult question of what Vygotsky may have meant by
> "ideal." Or, what he thought is a mystery, but what should *we* understand
> by ideality? It is well known that Vygotsky was surrounded by a number of
> fellows who were aficionados of Hegelianism, even if Vygotsky himself had
> never studied Hegel, so it is fair to suggest that the Hegelian concept of
> the Ideal is relevant in this context, of reconciling "ideal" as the norm
> in a given social formation and "ideal" as the notion of infinite,
> historical perfectability. For Hegel, "ideality" expresses both these
> principles; that is, that any relation contains within it a "gap" which
> makes it open to perfectability, and that "gap" is ever present, and its
> existence expresses what Hegel calls The Idea, that is to say, the
> ever-unfolding spirit of human freedom. Etc. It only requires that the Idea
> is present for any relation to be mutable. This is deep and challenging
> philosophical stuff which we don't really need, if we can just accept that
> "the ideal" does not mean something fixed and final, just an evolving norm:
> ever-shifting goal posts.
> Andy
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *Andy Blunden*
> http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/

Carol A  Macdonald Ph D (Edin)
Developmental psycholinguist
Academic, Researcher,  and Editor
Honorary Research Fellow: Department of Linguistics, Unisa