Monday, February 27, 2012

Ode to my Universe

The sun never sets, the sun never rises.  Our world spins endlessly around as we all try to find our places, never to touch the immutable and still.  Not one person will ever find their true place, as the place they inhabit will never stay the same.  Among other things, truly living is having a place in the no-place of all places.  Being vigorously alive requires us to interact with our world as if it is brand new with every spin of the planet, with every flick of the light switch.

The Universe is my home and my deity.  The world is my bedroom, and all matter my pillow.  My nightstand is the black night sky, where I place my astral headphones.  I listen, I feel, and I sense what passes by me.  My inner voice communes with my environment, and my mind acts as diplomat between the world and the true me. I have few values; my values are my passions.  I befriend people from all walks of life.  I love and respect everybody and everything, even the people I aggressively hate.  I resonate with everything genuine and alive, especially those who are different from me.  I try to be like everybody in their best ways, which makes me unique.  Nobody knows who I know, or what I know about who I know, so nobody can become what is me.

Tonight, I will sleep.  Tonight, I will wake up.  Tonight I will spend years, I will become wise, I will laugh, I will ingrain myself into the Universe until I can feel my roots spread across its entirety.  As I owe everything to the Universe, I will join it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Phonemes, in General

(housekeeping) So, after a few weeks of classes, I've settled into my new semester.  I think I've also got a pretty good routine that will keep me going throughout the semester.  Actually, I'm almost bored with the amount of work that I have in my classes.  I may be in class or commuting the majority of the day, but I still feel really good most of the time - in health and in spirit.  That's probably a sign that I'm doing the right things.  Having so much going on in my life keeps me engaged, getting my gears turning in linguistics and neuropsychology.  I'm starting to put a few pieces together for my master plan:

In general, I'm trying to figure out how I can apply human linguistic analysis to a non-human model.  There is much variation in human languages, but they follow certain general principles in many cases.  All the same, those principles are not laws, and language can work in many fundamentally different ways.  Just two years ago, linguists discovered a completely new sound producible by the human vocal apparatus (can't find specifics).

"Some of the click-using languages of Africa had more than 100 phonemes, while Hawaii, New Zealand Maori and other Polynesian languages had only 13.

English had 45 phonemes." (Michael Field)

People can discriminate between multitudes of sounds unrelated to language, and gaining the ability to identify individual sounds is as simple as being a baby.  Most learning of language comes passively, as humans adapt to fit the sound structures they observe in their lives into their brain as a language.  Well, as a specific language.  Any baby can learn any language, so the ability to learn language is pretty nonspecific to which language is being learned.

The hypothesis that I have so far is this:  identifying and recreating the genetic structure of the brain that allows for language should equal to finding a general function of the brain as opposed to a hyper specific one.  That makes things more feasible.  It may also make things more difficult - if it is hard to isolate which genetic structures code for the language system, say because it's too interrelated to other complex pathways, then it will be a nightmare trying to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for language.

(this is almost a hypothesis about my undergraduate education as opposed to what research needs to be done.  I don't really know what is known by science, so I don't know how much of the above questions are redundant with textbooks about this stuff.)

One more important hypothesis I have is that, for whatever language a nonhuman animal used, it would most likely be comprehensible by humans if it could be divided into phonemes.  Likewise, if the same cognitive capacity for language that humans have were to be hardwired into the brain of a nonhuman animal, then they would be able to interpret any comprehensible, structured set of phonemes that humans could produce.