Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How Language Is Learned

One of the things philosophers talk about is how language works. Are there limits to language? Does language affect understanding? How do people begin to understand the concept of "language"? Can we have a scientific-based approach to language?

I mentioned this to my wife, and she said it sounds like all of these so-called "great philosophers" are single men who never had kids. That is pretty much true. Socrates is basically the only great philosopher who had a wife.

Saint Augustine had a son, and he wrote some basic philosophy on "how language works". Babies and little kids learn words through repetition and example. If you point at a chair and say "chair" 100 times, the baby will eventually learn that the thing you're pointing at is called a chair. Our baby Rosie is coming up on four months now, and that's how she learned words. Granted, her vocabulary is super-limited. She knows "Mom", "Dad", "Rosie" and "play". She might know "hello"; Katie and I disagree if Rosie knows "hello" is distinct from "play", as she makes the same sound in response to both.

Kids grow a vocabulary as time goes on, and they speak in sentences which aren't sentences, like "Rosie bottle" for "give me the bottle". Once the concept of sentences clicks, their vocabulary explodes, as they can start deducing words from context, without having to be physically shown something to know what it is.

At least, I'm pretty sure that was Saint Augustine's theory of language. It's pretty much "this is how babies learn how to talk". I like philosophies that are grounded in reality, myself.

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