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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« Speakers, Listeners, and their Common Ground | Main | Edward S. Klima (1931-2008) »



Babbling is far more than repetitive sound making, and the sounds deaf babies make are unrelated to their babbling, which is manual not vocal. Deaf babies' prelinguistic vocal productions are qualitatively different from the babbling of hearing children exposed to aural language. Babies produce actual babbling in the same medium in which they are exposed to language: Children--deaf or hearing--exposed to sign language babble manually; Children--deaf or hearing--not exposed to language make sounds but don't babble.
As distinguished from repetitive sound making, actual babbling develops in three roughly sequential stages, all intentional, voluntarily controlled articulatory movements;
4-7 mo) a restricted set of phonetic forms taken from the set of possible aural or visual elements of language; (reflects cultural bias towards language medium)
7-9 mo) prosodically and phonologically lawful syllabic productions within the medium
9-12 mo) language-specific syllables
12 mo)actual words, beyond babbling

Jesús Sanchis

It's funny how the author of this blog first praises a book and then says it is boring, speculative, etc. I cannot say much more about this, because I haven't read the book (by the way, you seem to have read it before its publication; how did you manage to do so? Or did I get it wrong?). It is obvious that in the field of language origins and evolution there are some authors with brilliant writing skills, e.g. Steven Pinker, a real best-selling author, and others with more limited writing skills, like Tomasello. In any case, I read Tomasello's article "On the Different Origins of Symbols and grammar" (in Christiansen-Kirby, eds. 2003) and I think it was written in a reasonably clear, understandable way, and it included some interesting ideas, similar to the ones he's written about in his new book. It must be said, however, that the articles published in that book (2003) were read by students before publishing, and their comments and suggestions were taken into account.
BLOGGER: It's a paradox for sure. I think the book is important, clear, and informative, but a very hard slog. My posts on this book have very few quotations, especially longish ones. That's because I would want to quote a passage, but find it so clumsy that paraphrase seemed the better course.

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