An Introduction to the Nature and Nurture of Language #Book Review

Communication is vital for the normal execution of activities and operations in the world among people in individual, group, or corporate capacities. It is through effective communication that there is the smooth running of affairs among different people in the world. Without the transmission and decoding of messages and signals between people, it could be difficult to coordinate some essential functions that are necessary for human survival and rationale operation of the society. Communication is mainly done through the use of languages that are both verbal and written. Language involves a combination of words or signs that are familiar to all or a group of people and through it, they can easily pass messages and receive feedback to and from each other. Appropriate application of language means that there is the smooth passing of messages between people. However, if the language is abused and used ineffectively, there lacks the coherence in passing messages between people. It is important to understand a language thoroughly with its figurative speech before applying in serious or potentially offensive situations.

In the book, “An Introduction to the Nature and Nurture of Language,” the author bases the issue of language development on the aspect that human nature is dependent on human minds. According to him, the human mind encompasses a wide collection of feelings, memoirs, and facts, thought patterns, ideas, and so forth. All these factors that play a part in the existence of human minds are critical in the development and usage of language. From a personal perspective, I believe that the human minds decode a language in order to form meaningful messages that call for action or feedback. The author advances various ideas and facts regarding the issue the nurturing language. From a personal perspective, a majority of the content brought forth in the book is arguably correct and strong. However as shown in this review, the book has some weak areas and unjustifiable content that from an individual angle, I could refute and deem not so truthful in a real-life context.

Strengths

The book portrays strength in bringing forth the idea of children having a natural instinct of acquiring language. The explanation that the kids can automatically learn from listening to other people is somewhat truthful and arguable. This is so because, even without taking children to a class of language, they are already speaking to and understanding what they hear from the people surrounding them. As a matter of fact, the children are better placed to learn new languages as compared to the adult counterparts who often lack the knack of decoding messages from foreign and unfamiliar languages. The author portrays strength in the manner in which he explains the ability of the young ones to automatically get into the communicating realm. It is also a strong factor that he begins the issue of language development from the stage of the children. This is so because there is massive potential for learning and growing in the language as compared to the adults.

The issue of nature-nurture has played a major role in a broad variety of disciplines. The author recognizes that different disciplines in the learning processes demand a unique kind of language and genre. For example, class work meant for academic presentation demands that formal language be applied as compared to the general purpose information that can adopt a casual language style. Arts and commerce assume a simple language as compared to mathematics and engineering disciplines that require technical dialects and terminologies. In this light, the book in its recognition of this fact is in order and portrays strength on the side of the author. Some people could ignore the issue of language development in the context of the disciplines in which it is used. The author shows a special kind of expertise in his recognition of this factor, and this explains that language is more than just a combination of words that can be comprehended by people.

Another strong area in this book is the pursuit of the interrelation between different human languages around the world. The globe is large, and as such, it has people from diverse walks of life who understand and use different languages. There is the interconnection between the different dialects that are used by humankind around the world. The author talks about general construction features of perceptual grammar that involve the “software” that each grammar have to include in order to have the sound form, meaning and structure sentences and words. This is a vital point because, through learning about mental grammar, readers get the ideas of what children need to acquire. Without the knowledge of such content, it becomes difficult to debate about the role of nature and nurture for languages. The examination of linguistic universals is important because it becomes easy to go about the issue of language development in the context of many and largely diverse languages. The discussion of their similarities enables the avoidance of redundancy and duplication of efforts in this issue. From a personal view, the author has been highly successful in acknowledging the existence of similarities and universal factors between different languages in the realm of development.

The discussion pertaining to animal communication is among the most intriguing topics of debate in the book. Animal intelligence is an interesting issue to cover, and it comes with massive information regarding innateness hypothesis. According to the author, different species have diverse systems of communication that have clear grounds on the basis of genetic factors. The show of differences between the communicative abilities of apes, dolphins, bees and that of human beings is important and an exciting chapter to cover. In the issue of language development, looking into the communication within the animal kingdom is largely strong in the entire development of the book. Without looking into the issue of communication between animals, it could be difficult to come up with justifiable deduction regarding all the content about language development brought forward in the book. Covering transmission and decoding of messages in the animal kingdom offers a diverse view on the topic of nature and nurturing of language. For this reason; it is a strength that the author has largely exploited and has helped shape the articulation of issues in a well-calculated and authentic manner.

In the book, there is the discussion that connects the mind, language, and evolution in a unitary system. It is a fact that languages change with time and they evolve in tandem with the people. Some English terminologies that were used in 1500 AD could have disappeared or changed in the modern day world. It is important to consider the issue of the evolution of language when looking into development because they go hand in hand. There is no development without factoring in the aspect of change of language over time. In this light, the author has shown another significant strength in the book. There is the recognition that, language utilized a couple of centuries ago could be significantly different from the modern day thing. In this light, when nurturing language among the children and other learners, it is important to keep in touch with the trending and currently used language. Otherwise, there could be retrogressive development where development dwells on language that was used in the past and could be somewhat irrelevant in the modern day world. The theories of language evolution play a significant role in helping the reader understand and appreciate the manner in which communication has changed and hence they can willingly engage in the modern way of conveying and receiving messages. From my point of view, I think that the author has portrayed much strength in bringing forth the debate of engagement of mind and evolution in the languages. Without recognition of evolution, different individuals’ mindsets remain stuck in the ancient days, use the obsolete diction, hence resulting in a lack of development and nurturing of the language.

Weaknesses

The association between genetic factors, brains, and language development beats logics from my point of view. There is a deficiency of data regarding the argument connecting genetics and language development. This is a large weakness because there is a lack of evidence to support the claims brought forward by the author. Literary, the argument is that apparently, there are specific genes that impact on language development. These are apparent allegations that do not have a solid and scientific origin and for this reason; there is a huge doubt in regard to the truthfulness behind the issue as brought forward by the author. In academics and other formal contexts, outlining statements and issues without a credible source of evidence is treated to be weak and not credible to be published for general public study or presented for performance evaluation purposes. In this light, the author portrays a huge magnitude of weakness in his publication, and hence it is not credible in entirety and cannot be fully relied upon for academic and formal purposes.

In the work, the author advances the issue of brain localization and nature-nurturing of language development. The argument is based on the observation depicting that certain cognitive functionalities such as language are allegedly supported by neural substrates. They tend to be in a similar location in the brains of different persons. From my way of seeing things, this is a claim that cannot be argued to be truthful and factual in nature. The areas of brains and genes have many mysteries in regard to the topic of innateness. I believe that the author depended on his personal intuition and judgment when coming up with this content. As such, it has a weak nature and hence is not fit for academic purposes. Without hard evidence or credible supporting statistics, it is difficult to buy the author’s point of argument in regard to the connection between genes, brains, and language development.

From an individual perspective, I think that the issue of spontaneous emergence does not hold waters and it is fictitious in its advancement. The fact that children who are exposed to a primitive communication system by the adults who profess different languages transform the pidgin into a full language in practically incorrect. From personal experience, I have seen such children exposed to these issues, and they take long to muster language as compared to those who were brought up by adults sharing a common language. Children learn from the adults, and hence when they have a mixture of language from them at a tender age, they are more likely to take long to develop speech and construct meaningful words and sentences. In a couple of cases, I have had personal experiences of children who take up to 3 years of age before managing to engage in effective communication with both their peers and the adults surrounding them. The evidence behind the author’s argument about the creole is not tangible, and hence it is difficult to rely on his thought pattern. I believe that the personal experience that I have had, both in our family line and in the world out there, there is no such a point as the development of a full-fledged language from a conglomeration of different dialects to the children at tender ages. It is another weakness that the author has portrayed in his work and hence in this light, it is not credible to rely on this information because it is deficient in the supporting evidence.

Informative and Relevant Chapters

Chapter one is informative because it sets the tone for language nurturing and development. It introduces the issue of language development at the right time of infancy through looking into the instincts that children have that help them learn the language. Chapter two and three are largely relevant through bringing out the issues of cognitive science and philosophy of mind. Language development and learning are all in mind, and hence it often depends on attitudes and personal effort in acquiring knowledge regarding a particular language. Chapter five is vital in showing the relevance of nature-nurture of language in a wide variety of discipline. It is important due to the recognition of different context of language development in line with diverse disciplines. Chapter seven makes a connection between different human languages across the world. For this reason, it is a relevant unit that deduces the interrelation between development and nurturing of different languages. Chapter eight looks into the issue of language acquisition. Without acquiring a language, then nurturing and development could be impossible. As such, this chapter is important because it coheres both functions in a spontaneous manner.

I liked chapter 19 the most as compared to the other parts of the book. It looks into the communication intelligence of the animal kingdom. The relevance comes in through offering diversity in language development through diversifying from the human language to look into the animal kingdom. In this chapter, with the extension of chapter 20, there is the presentation of substantial differences that exist between the communicative function of the animals and people. Chapter 21 looks into the evolution of language. It is important because development and nurturing of language have to be in tandem with the modernity of the usage of dialects in terms of context and diction. Chapter 22 is about the evolution of humankind, and it is important because as people change with time, so does language. In this line, nurturing and development of language have to go with the manner in which people are changing as time comes and goes.

Irrelevant Parts

According to my perception, chapter 14 is misleading and irrelevant. It talks about the creolization theory which is not a scientific fact. In this case, I find it irrelevant because it cannot be supported by hard evidence and also, it is impossible with children without innate manuals which dictate the creation of complete and mental grammar. As a matter of fact, spontaneous emergence is next to impossible because kids have to learn firsthand from the adults. When they are confused right from the word go, it becomes difficult to create a complete language leave alone understand one of the adult’s language. This chapter should not have been included in the book because instead of adding and shedding more light to the content, it comes with contradiction and impossibilities in the real life setting. Chapters 17 and 18 are also irrelevant in the book. This is so because they depend on no or scanty evidence. There lack concrete sets of data that can academically or formally support the claims advanced. There are mysteries in regard to the presented information, and hence it is important to conduct more research in the area.

Things Missed in the Book

In the entire work, there is a lack of reflection on the issues of interactions between human and animals and humans with machines. Coded languages developed through computers are important to study the manner in which they act in human capacity. For instance, there is the development of various programming languages that assist in easy execution of different human actions that could otherwise be difficult and complicated. In this light, the author could have included a chapter or two featuring the usage of virtual languages which has become an integral part of the modern world’s daily operations. Also, there is the interaction between animals and humanity. It cannot be regarded as a concrete language, but then it happens through a form of chemistry which could be similar to that brought about by the well-established dialects used by people. For instance, it is evident that some people are usually closely attached to their pets; for example, dogs are excited when they meet their owners, and they show it through wagging their tails. There is the connection between the two parties.

Conclusion

Communication is an integral part of the life of human beings, and it is mainly done through verbal and written languages. Nurturing and developing languages is done in tandem with various factors in minds such as modernity issues, and individualities. The book is fairly strong, but has some areas of weakness where the author presents some information that is not scientifically proven. Lack of hard evidence supporting and mysteries surrounding some of the issues brought forwards constitute the main weaknesses in the book. Otherwise, it is a great piece of literature that sheds light on the issue of language. Further research should be conducted to include the issues of virtual languages and interaction between humans and the animal kingdom. From a personal view, the book is generallystrong and has some important pieces of information that the reader can benefit from and apply in life.

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