CD1_Brain_Chapters - *Excerpted from chapters (in progress)...

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1 ***Excerpted from chapters (in progress) on language and the brain by Dr. Maryanne Wolf*** Chapter Two: A Linguist’s Tale of a Bear “The Franklyn’s Prologue” But sires by cause I am a burel man At my bigynnyng first I yow biseche Haue me excused of my rude speche I lerned neuere rethorik certeyn Thyng that I speke it moot be bare and pleyn Geoffrey Chaucer i , Canterbury Tales , 13?? Language is alive. One glance at Chaucer’s Franklyn, who six centuries later still bemoans his plain, “rude speche” and lack of “rethorik,” shows both how different our spoken and written language have become and how much there is that remains of our Middle English roots. Beowulf , however, our best known example of written Old English, would be readily decipherable only by those who have made a study of its Celtic and Latin roots, as Irish poet Seamus Heaney’s recent translation makes beautifully clear. A time-traveler to 10 th century England would be both frustrated and intrigued at the extent to which the language we call English has changed its pronunciations and spelling systems, even though a core of basic words and many aspects of grammar remain the same. The interdigitation of these word fossils with words that were accrued over one millennia’s worth of conquests, cultural shifts, cross-linguistic influences, and technological inventions produced an oral and written language whose roots and parts bear the stamp of many centuries and many languages, from Old and Middle English, French, German, Latin, and Greek to e-talk. The result is a dynamic, thriving, changing language that wears its history on its sleeve. This is the first of three brief chapters that will introduce terms and concepts about language and the brain that come from linguistics, psycholinguistics (the study of the psychology of language), and neurology. In the third introductory chapter I will bring both sets of terms together and give you a taste of what cognitive neuroscience is about, as we examine in more detail one half second more difficult intellectual challenges you may have had of late and cognitive neuroscience. They will prepare you by Chapter Four for one of the more whimsical intellectual adventures you may have had of late --- a virtual tour of the reading brain . This tour, in turn, prepare you for the rest of the book. With this said, I wish to follow the worried example of another researcher ii when he had to introduce basic linguistic concepts known to at least part of his readership. He graciously invoked Doris Lessing’s preface to the Golden Notebook where she exhorted her readers to skip whatever they wanted to keep their interest going! A Linguistic Glossary and a Possum’s Approach to Thinking about Written Language “To see the world in a grain of sand and a kingdom in a wild flower ” William Wordsworth
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2 My friend and colleague, linguist Ray Jackendoff, wrote an elegant book, The Foundations of Language iii , in which he used one simple sentence about a little star and a big star to illustrate
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course CD CD1 taught by Professor Na during the Spring '09 term at Tufts.

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CD1_Brain_Chapters - *Excerpted from chapters (in progress)...

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