Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-4btjb Total loading time: 0.441 Render date: 2022-05-25T10:37:27.116Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

15 - The resilience of language in humans

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2010

Charles T. Snowdon
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Martine Hausberger
Affiliation:
Université de Rennes I, France
Get access

Summary

INTRODUCTION

In 1974, Ernst Mayr published a now classic paper on the distinction between innate and acquired characteristics. In this work, Mayr broke away from some of the more confining features of traditional accounts of innateness, and proposed a dimension along which behaviors might be expected to vary with respect to innateness. Mayr proposed a distinction between “closed” and “open” programs1 – a program that does not allow appreciable modifications during the lifespan of its owner is a “closed” program, while a program that does allow for the effects of additional input is “open.” Since it seems unlikely that any developmental program can be completely closed, Wimsatt (1986) has suggested that Mayr's notion of a closed program may be most fruitfully viewed as a relative one – “relative to the period of time of development under investigation, and the class of inputs being investigated, and probably also to the environment and the prior state of the developing phenotype” (Wimsatt 1986, p. 203). In Wimsatt's terms, a closed developmental program is one which is canalized with respect to the relevant inputs.

Mayr's classificatory schemes distinguished two types of behavior: A behavior is considered communicative if it is directed toward a recipient who is capable of responding with behavior of its own, and noncommunicative if it is directed toward a “recipient” that is passive and does not itself react (e.g., behaviors involved in selecting a habitat or seeking food).

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
6
Cited by

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×