Re: The need for accuracy?(Language acquistion)

Subject: Re: The need for accuracy?(Language acquistion)
From: bbatorsk -at- admin -dot- nj -dot- devry -dot- edu
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 1999 14:39:01 -0500

Geoff,

At 11:50 AM 12/15/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Once, my 6-year-old sun asked me why the sky was blue. I started
>with simple explanation, but each answer generated another "why".
>I completely lost him long before the time I got down to the
>quantum mechanical properties of light and the interaction of light
>waves with atoms, but he kept asking right up to the final answer,
>which was "because that's the way the universe is". That sort of
>curiosity is highly atypical

Your point is well taken, but in the interest of accuracy, as far as I
understand, that kind of curiosity is typical in children as they begin to
acquire their language. Language acquisition is the most complex mental
and physical feat human beings do(especially physical--involving incredibly
subtle muscle coordination). And we do it to a significant extent
idiosyncratically. Children work on it day and night, and they take every
chance they can to see and hear statements being begun, sustained and
ended. Most learn early how "Why?" works to get them what they need.

Incidentally, I attribute the anti-method, "just-do-it" propensity in naive
rhetoricians to a nostalgia for this sense of the overwhelming power of the
mind and body to learn to produce language without a textbook, or manual.
If only we could spend "quality time" with our audiences and clients, and
just keep asking "Why, why why?" then we could really learn to speak their
language. Alas, the only paradise is the paradise lost.

Barry



Barry







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