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Re: [xmca] Re: Word Meaning and Action

For those of you who didn't read to the end of Chris Sinha's chapter, sent around by Mike, here is the concluding paragraph:

"The biocultural theory of language and its acquisition restores, quite literally, life to language, for far too long reduced to formal structures and operations. It suggests a picture of “knowledge of language” that is both richer, in one sense, and poorer, in another, than that to which we have become accustomed from generative linguistics. It is richer because it incorporates meaning and context, the fundamental pillars supporting both language acquisition and language use. It is poorer because there is no longer a compelling reason to attribute a knowledge equivalent to the results of formal analysis to the learners and users of language. Simply stated, in the biocultural theory, there is no mental grammar isomorphic with autonomous grammar. Rather, grammar is in language, as a biocultural niche and social institution, just as the structure of the bower bird’s nest is in the nest as a biocultural niche. The learner need not internalize a formal description of the structure in order to acquire the ability to act in it. Language is not an “input” to a processor or device, but a structured niche affording complex and semiotically mediated communication and cognition. Grammar is a social institution, normatively regulating linguistic practice, and it is the practical ability to adhere to its constraints and supports that is acquired by the language learner."

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