RE: [xmca] Reference for ontological and phylogenetic languagecomparison

From: Tony Whitson (
Date: Thu Jan 11 2007 - 07:36:54 PST

What a nice, useful analogy Michael.

I'm thinking about how to make it more precisely parallel. The (ontogenic)
development of language ability in the child could be compared with the
(phylogenic) development of a player's football skills (I'm thinking
basketball might work better, since -- at least in US "gridiron" football --
most players on the field have specialized roles not requiring as great a
range of versatile skills as in basketball [IMHO: a defensive left guard
might think otherwise]). So, the development of a [basketball] player's
skills would not recapitulate the development of the game itself. Skills
that might have had value in the game as it was played in the early history
of the game might have no value for players today, and would not be part of
a developmental stage that today's players go through on their way to
development of skills they use today.

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Wolff-Michael Roth
Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 10:22 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: Re: [xmca] Reference for ontological and phylogenetic

A CHAT perspective built on the dialectic of individual and
collective, the person realizes cultural possibilities available to
any one else. From this perspective, children grow up in a different
material context, hearing different utterances in the context of
different situation. This would lead to the contention that ontogeny
does not recapitulate phylogeny, much in the same way that a present
day football game would not recapitulate the first football game ever
played or its precursor. (The referent of "football" can be taken the
British or American way).

On 11-Jan-07, at 6:46 AM, wrote:

Dan I. Slobin has an article, "From Ontogenesis to phylogenesis: what
child language tell us about language evolution?" that appears in IN
j. Langer, S.T. Parker edited volume, "BIology and Knowledge.

The questions he poses in the article are: Does linguistic ontogeny
recapitulate phylogeny?, Does linguistic diachrony recapitulate
OD children create grammatical forms?

good read but not a CHAT perspective but rather biologicaly based.


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