Nueva téoria de la evolución
Big Idea: Bring Ancient Voices Back to Life
miércoles, enero 16, 2013, 02:13 AM
i56b Big Idea: Bring Ancient Voices Back to Life, January 15 2013

Following you will find a transcription of the article Big Idea: Bring Ancient Voices Back to Life found in Discover 08.09.2012 by Jill Neimark. At the end please find my request to Marguerite Humeau and to Bart de Boer.

Rebuilding the vocal tracts of extinct creatures could let us hear long-lost sounds: an ancient whale song, the cries of our ancestors.



The call of the wild has just gotten wilder. Along with bellowing lions and honking geese, you can now hear woolly mammoths that died out 14,000 years ago, the mating call of a now-extinct Hawaiian bird, and even a 3-million-year-old human ancestor, Lucy. Using three-dimensional imaging and a burgeoning knowledge of ancient anatomies, scientists can now rebuild ancient creatures’ vocal tracts and re-create their sounds.

Take our ancestor Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), who stood less than four feet tall, swung from tree branches, and ran easily along the ground on two feet more than 3 million years ago. What did that diminutive prehuman sound like as she called to her kin?

Lucy could not speak the way we do, because she most likely had air sacs, balloon-shaped organs that attach to an extension of the hyoid bone, says Bart de Boer, an expert in the evolution of speech at Vrije University in Brussels. In modern humans, who lack air sacs, that bone supports the tongue muscles, enabling a wide range of vocalizations. “Air sacs make sounds louder and lower-pitched, just the way a musical instrument sounds lower and louder when it’s bigger,” de Boer continues. “I was in Brazil recently and heard howler monkeys in the wild. They sounded like scary monsters because of their air sacs.”

Such sounds may help fend off predators, though among great apes they are used mostly to impress each other. Air sacs may also have enabled creatures to make long, repeated calls without hyperventilating. But like bass drums, what they add in force they lose in precision.

On a computer, de Boer modeled the acoustic effect of air sacs and then built an actual model of a vocal tract of a Lucy-like creature, incorporating plastic tubing and a chamber to mimic an air sac. He forced air through the tubing to create various vowel sounds and found that test listeners had a harder time distinguishing them when air sacs were present than when they were not. With this kind of anatomy, de Boer says, Lucy’s vowels would have merged together until they were almost indistinguishable. The easiest vowel sound to make when air sacs are present is “uh.” To human ears, our ancestor might have sounded perpetually bewildered and yet a bit scary: “Duh ... duh ... duh ....”

A Mammoth Noise

French artist Marguerite Humeau sculpted Lucy’s vocal tract, which today sits in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She is also working on the vocal tract of the woolly mammoth. The mammoth’s white bones look like whorled ice cream, with an enormous tusk jutting into space. “I looked at archived larynxes of the mammoth’s descendant, the Asian elephant,” Humeau says, “along with photographs and scans of woolly mammoths preserved in ice in Siberia. And I created organs—such as the lungs, trachea, and larynx—with vibrating vocal chords, as well as nose and mouth cavities for resonance.” Then she added an air compressor to mimic the lungs sending air through the vocal tract. She also included a subwoofer to emulate the mammoth’s original volume. The result: “Children run from it when it roars,” she jokes.

Humeau’s next installation will re-create the sound of an extinct walking whale and the hell pig, a piglike omnivore that vanished about 16 million years ago. Working with composers and sound innovators, she hopes to have the animals communicate with each other via a computer program that would allow various parts of her exhibit to listen to each other and respond. “It’s almost like raising the dead,” she says. “You get these dark, deep sounds coming at you from millions of years ago.”

Ghostly Birdsongs

A creature’s call is more poignant and present than even the most perfectly preserved bone or tooth. John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology in Ithaca (which houses the world’s largest collection of animal sounds, nearly 200,000 clips), begins public lectures by playing a “jazzlike, haunting mating call that delights the audience until they learn that it is the call of the extinct Kauai Oo, recorded in the 1970s.” Once common on the Hawaiian islands, the bird was answering a recording played by a scientist. “That bird has gone forever.”

Even more legendary is the call of the ivory-billed woodpecker, which sounds like the rubber horn on a toddler’s tricycle, bleating with the rhythm of a metronome and conveying a certain goofy joy. It was first recorded in 1935 in a Louisiana swamp, “when scientists dragged wagons’ worth of machinery used in early talkie films,” Fitzpatrick says. Cornell researchers are still seeking the woodpecker, which was thought extinct but may have been spotted in 2004. They use audio spectrography, which analyzes birdsong on a computer, to compare calls of woodpeckers in the swamps to that of the elusive bird.

Lately the Cornell Ornithology Laboratory has been working with artist Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. She is crafting a multimedia artwork called “What Is Missing," which includes the sounds of extinct and endangered species. Lin says, “This is my last memorial. I’ll be working on this until the day I die, because I believe we are degrading our habitat so rapidly that we’re in the sixth mass extinction.” The sounds of the Chinese river dolphin, the dusty seaside sparrow, the golden toad, and untold numbers of other animals have left the planet.
“I also showcase the sounds of endangered species, ones we can still save,” Lin says. “We’ve even got the sound of an endangered coral reef, which sounds like Rice Krispies crackling in milk.”

Sounds of the Jurassic

The voices of woolly mammoths and 3-million-year-old human ancestors are far from the only ones scientists have revived. Teams are reconstructing sounds from as far back as the Jurassic, a period when dinosaurs lived.

Walking Whale French artist Marguerite Humeau has re-created the song of Ambulocetus, a mammal that walked on land and swam like an otter. The 10-foot-long carnivore lived 50 million years ago in Pakistan. It produced high-pitched calls that probably traveled great distances. Her sculpture of the creature’s vocal tract is on display now through January 2013 at Cité du Design in central France.

Parasaurolophus Scientists at Sandia National Labs scanned the skull and crest of this plant-eating, duckbilled dinosaur and fed the data through a computer simulation to generate the sound it might have made 73 million years ago. If the dino had vocal cords, it voiced a low-pitched bird call. If not, it sounded more like the drone of a bullfrog.

Jurassic Cricket Biologists in Beijing determined the mating call of a 165-million-year-old male katydid by measuring fossils of the noisemaking apparatus in the insect’s wings. It seems the cricket produced a low-pitched chirp to attract females.

(End of transcription)

Request to Marguerite Humeau and to Bart de Boer:

Rebuild the vocal tracts of the Boskop fossils and make a comparative of them with those of Lucy, of the present human being, of hominids of the same epoch of the Boskop and of present apes most similar to human beings.

The reasons for this request you may find them in the following articles in this same blog:

1.- The extinct Human Species That Was Smarter than Us

2.- If Modern Humans Are So Smart, Why Are Our Brains Shrinking?

Available for talks over my theory

Felix Rocha-Martinez
www.cicatrices.com.mx
[url=mailto:frocham@yahoo.com]frocham@yahoo.com
[/url]
Saltillo, Coahuila, México
| enlace permanente | ( 3 / 725 )
Gran idea: Regresar a la vida las antiguas voces
martes, enero 15, 2013, 02:21 AM
e56i Gran idea: Regresar a la vida las antiguas voces, 15 de enero de 2013

A continuación hallarán mi traducción al articulo Big Idea: Bring Ancient Voices Back to Life (Gran idea: Regresar a la vida las antiguas voces) de Discover 08/09/2012 por Jill Neimark y mi solicitud a Marguerite Humeau y a Bart de Boer al final.

La reconstrucción de los tractos vocales de criaturas extintas podría permitirnos oír sonidos perdidos hace mucho tiempo: un antiguo canto de las ballenas, los gritos de nuestros antepasados.



La llamada de la naturaleza acaba de hacerse más salvaje. Junto con los leones rugiendo y gansos haciendo sus sonidos peculiares, ahora usted puede escuchar a los mamuts lanudos que se extinguieron hace 14,000 años, la llamada de apareamiento de un pájaro ahora extinto de Hawai, e incluso un antepasado humano de hace 3 millones de años, Lucy. Con el uso de imágenes tridimensionales y un conocimiento creciente de las antiguas anatomías, los científicos ahora pueden reconstruir los tractos vocales de las antiguas criaturas y volver a crear sus sonidos.

Considere a nuestro ancestro Lucy (Australopithecus afarensis), que se alzaba menos de 1.2 metros de altura, pasó de unas ramas a otras de los árboles, y corrió con facilidad por el suelo con dos pies hace más de 3 millones de años. ¿Qué sonido hacía la diminuta prehumana cuando ella llamaba a sus parientes?

Lucy no podía hablar como lo hacemos nosotros, porque lo más probable es que haya tenido sacos de aire, órganos en forma de globo que se adhieren a una extensión del hueso hioides, dice Bart de Boer, un experto en la evolución del habla en la Universidad de Vrije, en Bruselas. En los seres humanos modernos, que carecen de sacos de aire, el hueso soporta los músculos de la lengua, lo que permite una amplia gama de vocalizaciones. "Los sacos de aire hacen sonidos más fuertes y de tono más bajo, tal y como un instrumento musical suena más bajo y más fuerte cuando es más grande", continúa de Boer, "Yo estaba en Brasil recientemente y oí a los monos aulladores en estado silvestre. Sonaban como monstruos que dan miedo, debido a sus bolsas de aire".

Estos sonidos pueden ayudar a defenderse de los depredadores, aunque entre los grandes simios se utilizan sobre todo para impresionarse unos a los otros. Las bolsas de aire también pudieran haber permitido a las criaturas hacer llamadas largas repetidas sin hiperventilación. Pero, como tambores de sonido bajo, lo que añade en fuerza pierde en precisión.

En una computadora, de Boer modeló el efecto acústico de sacos de aire y luego construyó un modelo real de un tracto vocal de una criatura parecida a Lucy, incorporando un tubo de plástico y una cámara para imitar un saco de aire. El aire forzado a través del tubo creó diferentes sonidos vocálicos y encontró que los oyentes de la prueba tuvieron más dificultades para distinguir cuando los sacos de aire estaban presentes que cuando no lo estaban. Con esta clase de anatomía, de Boer dice, las vocales de Lucy se fusionaron entre sí hasta que eran casi indistinguibles. El sonido de la vocal más fácil de hacer cuando están presentes los sacos de aire es "Uh" para el oído humano, nuestro antepasado podría haber sonado perpetuamente desconcertado y sin embargo daba un poco de miedo: "Duh... duh... duh.... "

Un sonido del Mamut

La artista francesa Marguerite Humeau esculpió el tracto vocal de Lucy, que hoy se encuentra en la colección permanente del Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York. Ella también está trabajando en el tracto vocal del mamut lanudo. Los blancos huesos del mamut parecen helados de nieve esculpidos en espiral, con colmillos enormes que se proyectan al espacio. "Observé a las laringes archivadas de los descendientes del mamut, los elefantes asiáticos," Humeau dice, "junto con las fotografías y las exploraciones de los mamuts conservados en hielo en Siberia. Y he creado órganos, como los pulmones, la tráquea, la laringe y cuerdas vocales con vibraciones, así como la nariz y las cavidades de resonancia de la boca. "Luego añadí un compresor de aire para simular el envío de aire a los pulmones a través del tracto vocal. También incluye un regulador para emular volumen original de los mamuts. El resultado: "Los niños corren para alejarse del mamut cuando ruge", bromea.

La próxima tarea de Humeau es recrear el sonido de una ballena caminante extinta y el cerdo infierno, un omnívoro parecido al puerco que desapareció cerca de hace 16 millones de años. Al trabajar con compositores e innovadores de sonido, espera tener a los animales comunicándose entre sí a través de un programa de computadora que permitiría varias partes de su exposición escucharse el uno al otro y responder. "Es casi como resucitar a los muertos", dice ella. "Usted recibe estos sonidos oscuros y profundos que le llegan a usted de hace millones de años".

El canto de los pájaros fantasmales

La llamada de una criatura es más conmovedora y presente que incluso el diente o el hueso en el más perfecto estado de conservación. John Fitzpatrick, director del Laboratorio de Ornitología de Cornell, en Ithaca (que alberga la mayor colección del mundo de los sonidos de los animales, cerca de 200,000 clips), comienza las conferencias públicas, poniendo un "llamado inquietante de apareamiento parecido al jazz, que hace las delicias del público hasta que se enteran que es la llamada de la extinta Oo Kauai, grabada en la década de 1970. "Una vez común en las islas de Hawai, el ave estaba respondiendo a una grabación interpretada por un científico. "Ese pájaro se ha ido para siempre".

Aún más legendaria es la llamada del pájaro carpintero pico de marfil, que suena como la bocina de hule en el triciclo de un niño pequeño, balando con el ritmo de un metrónomo y transmitiendo con una cierta alegría tonta. Fue registrada por primera vez en 1935 en un pantano de Louisiana, "cuando los científicos transportaron vagones llenos de la maquinaria utilizada en las primeras películas habladas", dice Fitzpatrick. Investigadores de Cornell siguen buscando el pájaro carpintero, que se creía extinto, pero pudo haber sido visto en 2004. Ellos usaron la espectrografía de audio, que analiza el canto de los pájaros en un ordenador, para comparar los llamados de los pájaros carpinteros en el pantano al del pájaro esquivo.

Últimamente, el Laboratorio de Ornitología de Cornell ha estado trabajando con la artista Maya Lin, diseñadora del Monumento a los Veteranos de Vietnam en Washington, DC. Ella está elaborando una obra de arte multimedia llamada "Lo que falta", que incluye los sonidos de las especies extintas y en peligro de extinción., Dice Lin, "Este es mi último memorial. Voy a estar trabajando en esto hasta el día que muera, porque creo que estamos degradando nuestro hábitat con tanta rapidez que estamos en la sexta extinción en masa”. Los sonidos del delfín de río chino, el gorrión marino polvoso, el sapo dorado, y un número incalculable de otros animales que han dejado el planeta.

"También mostraré los sonidos de especies amenazadas de extinción, aquellas que todavía podemos salvar", dice Lin. "Incluso tenemos el sonido de un arrecife de coral en peligro de extinción, que suena como el crujido de Rice Krispies en la leche".

Sonidos del Jurásico

Las voces de los mamuts lanudos y ancestros humanos de hace 3 millones de años están lejos de ser los únicos que los científicos han revivido. Los equipos están reconstruyendo los sonidos de una fecha tan lejana como la del Jurásico, cuando vivieron los dinosaurios.

La artista francesa Marguerite Humeau de “Walking Dead” ha vuelto a crear la canción del Ambulocetus, un mamífero que caminaba sobre la tierra y nadaba como una nutria. El carnívoro de 3 metros de largo vivió hace 50 millones de años en Pakistán. Producía llamadas de tono alto que probablemente viajaron grandes distancias. Su escultura del tracto vocal de la criatura se encuentra en exhibición desde ahora hasta enero 2013 en la Cité du Design en el centro de Francia.

Los científicos que estudian al Parasaurolophus en el Laboratorio Nacional Sandia escanean el cráneo y la cresta de este dinosaurio herbívoro, pico de pato y alimentaron los datos a través de una simulación por ordenador para generar el sonido que podrían haber hecho hace 73 millones de años. Si el dinosaurio tenía cuerdas vocales, expresó su canto como el de un pájaro de tono bajo. Si no tenía cuerdas vocales, entonces sonaba más como el zumbido de un sapo.

Los biólogos del Jurásico de Cricket en Pekín determinaron la llamada de apareamiento de un saltamontes masculino de hace 165 millones de años, mediante la medición de los fósiles del aparato de hacer ruido en las alas del insecto. Al parecer, el grillo producía un sonido de tono bajo para atraer a las hembras.

(Fin de traducción)

Solicitud a Marguerite Humeau y a Bart de Boer:

Recrear los tractos vocales de los fósiles de los boskops y hacer un comparativo de ellos con los de Lucy, el ser humano presente, de homínidos de la misma época que los boskops y de simios presentes más similares al ser humano.

Las razones para esta solicitud las pueden encontrar en los siguientes artículos de este mismo blog:

1.- “La especie humana extinta que fue más inteligente que nosotros”.

2.- Si los humanos modernos son tan inteligentes ¿Por qué nuestros cerebros se están encogiendo?

Disponible para pláticas sobre mi teoría

Félix Rocha Martínez
www.cicatrices.com.mx
frocham@yahoo.com
Saltillo, Coahuila, México
| enlace permanente | ( 3 / 830 )
Commentaries to Discover Interview, The Radical Linguist Noam Chomsky
domingo, enero 6, 2013, 05:28 AM
i55b The Radical Linguist Noam Chomsky January 06, 2013

Discover Interview: The Radical Linguist Noam Chomsky, Discover magazine´s November 29, 2011 edition By Marion Long and Valerie Ross. (In parenthesis you will find my commentaries).

Over 50 years ago, he began a revolution that's still playing out today.

For centuries experts held that every language is unique. Then one day in 1956, a young linguistics professor gave a legendary presentation at the Symposium on Information Theory at MIT. He argued that every intelligible sentence conforms not only to the rules of its particular language but to a universal grammar that encompasses all languages. And rather than absorbing language from the environment and learning to communicate by imitation, children are born with the innate capacity to master language, a power imbued in our species by evolution itself. Almost overnight, linguists’ thinking began to shift.

{more]

Avram Noam Chomsky was born in Philadelphia on December 7, 1928, to William Chomsky, a Hebrew scholar, and Elsie Simonofsky Chomsky, also a scholar and an author of children’s books. While still a youngster, Noam read his father’s manuscript on medieval Hebrew grammar, setting the stage for his work to come. By 1955 he was teaching linguistics at MIT, where he formulated his groundbreaking theories. Today Chomsky continues to challenge the way we perceive ourselves.

Language is “the core of our being,” he says. “We are always immersed in it. It takes a strong act of will to try not to talk to yourself when you’re walking down the street, because it’s just always going on.”

Chomsky also bucked against scientific tradition by becoming active in politics. He was an outspoken critic of American involvement in Vietnam and helped organize the famous 1967 protest march on the Pentagon. When the leaders of the march were arrested, he found himself sharing a cell with Norman Mailer, who described him in his book Armies of the Night as “a slim, sharp-featured man with an ascetic expression, and an air of gentle but absolute moral integrity.”

Chomsky discussed his ideas with Connecticut journalist Marion Long after numerous canceled interviews. “It was a very difficult situation,” Long says. “Chomsky’s wife was gravely ill, and he was her caretaker. She died about 10 days before I spoke with him. It was Chomsky’s first day back doing interviews, but he wanted to go through with it.” Later, he gave even more time to DISCOVER reporter Valerie Ross, answering her questions from his storied MIT office right up to the moment he dashed off to catch a plane.

You describe human language as a unique trait. What sets us apart?

Humans are different from other creatures, and every human is basically identical in this respect. If a child from an Amazonian hunter-gatherer tribe comes to Boston, is raised in Boston, that child will be indistinguishable in language capacities from my children growing up here, and vice versa. This unique human possession, which we hold in common, is at the core of a large part of our culture and our imaginative intellectual life. That’s how we form plans, do creative art, and develop complex societies.

When and how did the power of language arise?

If you look at the archaeological record, a creative explosion shows up in a narrow window, somewhere between 150,000 and roughly 75,000 years ago. All of a sudden, there’s an explosion 
of complex artifacts, symbolic representation, measurement of celestial events, complex social structures–a burst of creative activity that almost every expert on prehistory assumes must have been connected with the sudden emergence of language. And it doesn’t seem to be connected with physical changes; the articulatory and acoustic [speech and hearing] systems of contemporary humans are not very different from those of 600,000 years ago. There was a rapid cognitive change. Nobody knows why.

(According to my theory, in those times a man and a woman were one human being, a self reproductive hermaphrodite. What the authors said in the previous paragraph is the evidence of the beginning of the presence of males in a sporadic and isolated manner. A man has the power of creating mental images from origin, from birth, a capacity that neither hermaphrodites nor women have and that allows a male to have the potential to create art, technology and science from birth. In the article i45b Not Out of Africa But Regional Continuity we have the presence of Mungo Man in the Australian Continent. In Chile, in the extraordinary archeological site of Monteverde, it was found very old human fossils but since they did not comply to Darwin´s expectations the easiest thing was to dismiss them. In Africa, there were found some 3,000 Oldowan rocks [belonging to very anterior times] were fractured by human beings along 800,000 years. In my opinion, a man taught hermaphrodites how to fracture them, he could not reproduce and hermaphrodites kept fracturing rocks the same way for 800,000 years.

Allow me to present to you drawing 8c from my book “Cicatrices, New Theory of Evolution” in which I explain the evidences of the emergence of a male born from a hermaphrodite, and now in a continuous manner, in Afghanistan or North Pakistan. When the baby boy reached sexual maturity copulated with all available or possible hermaphrodites and the products of those encounters were almost half of feminine sex and a little more than half of masculine sex [by sexual maturity they were about the same amount in both sexes]. In this way only one generation later there was one female for each male in that group. The more “restless” males showed their disgust for this environment leaving the group to search for other hermaphrodite groups [where he would have at his disposal an entire group of hermaphrodites and the process would repeat itself]. One male went to North China and the other to South China and in time they were united to make Mandarin the predominant language with 6 other languages as a family. Another male traveled to the south and made Sanscrit the predominant language with other 9 groups of languages as a grand family of languages: Sanskrit, Hindu, Iranian, [of which aramean is part of it], Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Celt, Greek and Latin. With the emergence of the male started a process of elimination of languages that continues up to today. This process also allows us to know what worked out as the reason for the enormous populations of two countries: China and India. The males that arrived to those places stayed in them while the ones that traveled in the direction of Europe distributed their energy in many places).

What first sparked your interest in human language?

I read modern Hebrew literature and other texts with my father from a very young age. It must have been around 1940 when he got his Ph.D. from Dropsie College, a Hebrew college in Philadelphia. He was a Semitist, working on medieval Hebrew grammar. I don’t know if I officially proofread my father’s book, but I read it. I did get some conception of grammar in general from that. But back then, studying grammar meant organizing the sounds, looking at the tense, making a catalog of those things, and seeing how they fit together.

Linguists have distinguished between historical grammars and descriptive grammars. What is the difference between the two?

Historical grammar is a study of how, say, modern English developed from Middle English, and how that developed from Early and Old English, and how that developed from Germanic, and that developed from what’s called Proto-Indo-European, a source system that nobody speaks so you have to try to reconstruct it. It is an effort to reconstruct how languages developed through time, analogous to the study of evolution. Descriptive grammar is an attempt to give an account of what the current system is for either a society or an individual, whatever you happen to be studying. It is kind of like the difference between evolution and psychology.

And linguists of your father’s era, what did they do?

They were taught field methods. So, suppose you wanted to write a grammar of Cherokee. You would go into the field, and you would elicit information from native speakers, called informants.

What sort of questions would the linguists ask?

Suppose you’re an anthropological linguist from China and you want to study my language. The first thing you would try to do is see what kind of sounds I use, and then you’d ask how those sounds go together. So why can I say “blick” but not “bnick,” for example, and what’s the organization of the sounds? How can they be combined? If you look at the way word structure is organized, is there a past tense on a verb? If there is, does it follow the verb or does it precede the verb, or is it some other kind of thing? And you’d go on asking more and more questions like that.

But you weren’t content with that approach. Why not?

I was at Penn, and my undergraduate thesis topic was the modern grammar of spoken Hebrew, which I knew fairly well. I started doing it the way we were taught. I got a Hebrew-speaking informant, started asking questions and getting the data. At some point, though, it just occurred to me: This is ridiculous! I’m asking these questions, but I already know the answers.

Soon you started developing a different approach to linguistics. How did those ideas emerge?

Back in the early 1950s, when I was a graduate student at Harvard, the general assumption was that language, like all other human activities, is just a collection of learned behaviors developed through the same methods used to train animals—by reinforcement. That was virtually dogma at the time. But there were two or three of us who didn’t believe it, and we started to think about other ways of looking at things.

In particular, we looked at a very elementary fact: Each language provides a means to construct and interpret infinitely many structured expressions, each of which has a semantic interpretation and an expression in sound. So there’s got to be what’s called a generative procedure, an ability to generate infinite sentences or expressions and then to connect them to thought systems and to sensory motor systems. One has to begin by focusing on this central property, the unbounded generation of structured expressions and their interpretations. Those ideas crystallized and became part of the so-called biolinguistic framework, which looks at language as an element of human biology, rather like, say, the visual system.

You theorized that all humans have “universal grammar.” What is that?

It refers to the genetic component of the human language faculty. Take your last sentence, for example. It’s not a random sequence of noises. It has a very definite structure, and it has a very specific semantic interpretation; it means something, not something else, and it sounds a particular way, not some other way. Well, how do you do that? There are two possibilities. One, it’s a miracle. Or two, you have some internal system of rules that determines the structures and the interpretations. I don’t think it’s a miracle.

(Due to the fact that we have an internal system of rules that determine the structure and the interpretations, babes are able to learn the language or languages to which they are exposed and there is not such a thing as any one language is more difficult than any other. The language or languages to which they are exposed are the ones babies are going to learn. The requirements to learn them are: 1.- The exposition to the language has to be in bulk, that is in person, preferably with movements and gesticulations according to the spoken word. If to a baby you expose to a recorded voice it would be registered as noise the baby would not learn any language that way. 2.- There must be continuity in the exposition. The baby must be exposed to the languages on a daily basis. 3.- Preferably there must be more than one person talking to the baby in each language to be learned. This will give the baby the advantagemo9f learning an automatic way that each person has his or her own vocabulary and style. This is nothing new, it is done in a natural way at the borders between countries with different languages and babies learn several languages where the neighboring countries are very small. In Europe there are very many people that speak several languages since they are babies).

What were the early reactions to your linguistic ideas?

At first, people mostly dismissed or ignored them. It was the period of behavioral science, the study of action and behavior, including behavior control and modification. Behaviorism held that you could basically turn a person into anything, depending on how you organized the environment and the training procedures. The idea that a genetic component entered crucially into this was considered exotic, to put it mildly.

Later, my heretical idea was given the name “the innateness hypothesis,” and there was a great deal of literature condemning it. You can still read right now, in major journals, that language is just the result of culture and environment and training. It’s a commonsense notion, in a way. We all learn language, so how hard could it be? We see that environmental effects do exist. People growing up in England speak English, not Swahili. And the actual principles—they’re not accessible to consciousness. We can’t look inside ourselves and see the hidden principles that organize our language behavior any more than we can see the principles that allow us to move our bodies. It happens internally.

How do linguists go about searching for these hidden principles?

You can find information about a language by collecting a corpus of data—for instance, the Chinese linguist studying my language could ask me various questions about it and collect the answers. That would be one corpus. Another corpus would just be a tape recording of everything I say for three days. And you can investigate a language by studying what goes on in the brain as people learn or use language. Linguists today should concentrate on discovering the rules and principles that you, for example, are using right now when you interpret and comprehend the sentences I’m producing and when you produce your own.

Isn’t this just like the old system of grammar that you rejected?

No. In the traditional study of grammar, you’re concentrating on the organization of sounds and word formation and maybe a few observations about syntax. In the generative linguistics of the last 50 years, you’re asking, for each language, what is the system of rules and principles that determines an infinite array of structured expressions? Then you assign specific interpretations to them.

Has brain imaging changed the way we understand language?

There was an interesting study of brain activity in language recently conducted by a group in Milan. They gave subjects two types of written materials based on nonsense language. One was a symbolic language modeled on the rules of Italian, though the subjects didn’t know that. The other was devised to violate the rules of universal grammar. To take a particular case, say you wanted to negate a sentence: “John was here, John wasn’t here.” There are particular things that you are allowed to do in languages. You can put the word “not” in certain positions, but you can’t put it in other positions. So one invented language put the negation element in a permissible place, while the other put it in an impermissible place. The Milan group seems to have found that permissible nonsense sentences produced activity in the language areas of the brain, but the impermissible ones—the ones that violated principles of universal grammar—did not. That means the people were just treating the impermissible sentences as a puzzle, not as language. It’s a preliminary result, but it strongly suggests that the linguistic principles discovered by investigating languages have neurocorrelates, as one would expect and hope.

Recent genetic studies also offer some clues about language, right?

In recent years a gene has been discovered called FOXP2. This gene is particularly interesting because mutations on it correspond with some deficiencies in language use. It relates to what’s called orofacial activation, the way you control your mouth and your face and your tongue when you speak. So FOXP2 plausibly has something to do with the use of language. It’s found in many other organisms, not just humans, and functions in many different ways in different species; these genes don’t do one single thing. But that’s an interesting preliminary step toward finding a genetic basis for some aspects of language.

You say that innate language is uniquely human, yet FOXP2 shows a continuity among species. Is that a contradiction?

It’s almost meaningless that there’s a continuity. Nobody doubts that the human language faculty is based on genes, neurons, and so on. The mechanisms that are involved in the use, understanding, acquisition, and production of language at some level show up throughout the animal world, and in fact throughout the organic world; you find some of them in bacteria. But that tells you almost nothing about evolution or common origins. The species that are maybe most similar to humans with regard to anything remotely like language production are birds, but that’s not due to common origin. It’s what’s called convergence, a development of somewhat analogous systems independently. FOXP2 is quite interesting, but it’s dealing with fairly peripheral parts of language like [physical] language production. Whatever’s discovered about it is unlikely to have much of an effect on linguistic theory.

(Genes are the building blocks that have more than one function and that additionally they can associate to have additional functions. The first important genome deciphered was that of the human being. The second one was that of monkey and it ended being 98 % similar to the human being one. Darwinists were prone to say “I told you so, human beings and monkeys are related”. Then the mice genome was deciphered and it resulted 99% similar to the human being one, Does it mean that first we were monkeys and then mice and then human beings? Of course not, the quantity of genes in common among species says almost nothing about their evolution or a common origin other than the species had similar invasions of bacteria and viruses).

Over the past 20 years you’ve been working on a “minimalist” understanding of language. What does that entail?

Suppose language were like a snowflake; it takes the form it does because of natural law, with the condition that it satisfy these external constraints. That approach to the investigation of language came to be called the minimalist program. It has achieved, I think, some fairly significant results in showing that language is indeed a perfect solution for semantic expression—the meaning—but badly designed for articulate expression, the particular sound you make when you say “baseball” and not “tree.”

What are the outstanding big questions in linguistics?

There are a great many blanks. Some are “what” questions, like: What is language? What are the rules and principles that enter into what you and I are now doing? Others are “how” questions: How did you and I acquire this capacity? What was it in our genetic endowment and experience and in the laws of nature? And then there are the “why” questions, which are much harder: Why are the principles of language this way and not some other way? To what extent is it true that the basic language design yields an optimal solution to the external conditions that language must satisfy? That’s a huge problem. To what extent can we relate what we understand about the nature of language to activity taking place in the brain? And can there be, ultimately, some serious inquiry into the genetic basis for language? In all of these areas there’s been quite a lot of progress, but huge gaps remain.

Every parent has marveled at the way children develop language. It seems incredible that we still know so little about the process.

We now know that an infant, at birth, has some information about its mother’s language; it can distinguish its mother’s language from some other language when both are spoken by a bilingual woman. There are all kinds of things going on in the environment, what William James called a “blooming, buzzing confusion.” Somehow the infant reflexively selects out of that complex environment the data that are language-related. No other organism can do that; a chimpanzee can’t do that. And then very quickly and reflexively the infant proceeds to gain an internal system, which ultimately yields the capacities that we are now using. What’s going on in the [infant’s] brain? What elements of the human genome are contributing to this process? How did these things evolve?

What about meaning at a higher level? The classic stories that people retell from generation to generation have a number of recurring themes. Could this repetition indicate something about innate human language?

In one of the standard fairy tales, the handsome prince is turned into a frog by the wicked witch, and finally the beautiful princess comes around and kisses the frog, and he’s the prince again. Well, every child knows that the frog is actually the prince, but how do they know it? He’s a frog by every physical characteristic. What makes him the prince? It turns out there is a principle: We identify persons and animals and other living creatures by a property that’s called psychic continuity. We interpret them as having some kind of a mind or a soul or something internal that persists independent of their physical properties. Scientists don’t believe that, but every child does, and every human knows how to interpret the world that way.

You make it sound like the science of linguistics is just getting started.

There are many simple descriptive facts about language that just aren’t understood: how sentences get their meaning, how they get their sound, how other people comprehend them. Why don’t languages use linear order in computation? For example, take a simple sentence like “Can eagles that fly swim?” You understand it; everyone understands it. A child understands that it’s asking whether eagles can swim. It’s not asking whether they can fly. You can say, “Are eagles that fly swimming?” You can’t say, “Are eagles that flying swim?” Meaning, is it the case that eagles that are flying swim? These are rules that everyone knows, knows reflexively. But why? It’s still quite a mystery, and the origins of those principles are basically unknown.

Available for talks over my theory.

Felix Rocha-Martinez
www.cicatrices.com.mx
[url=mailto:frocham@yahoo.com]frocham@yahoo.com
[/url]
Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico
| enlace permanente | ( 3 / 782 )
La entrevista Discover, Noam Chomsky
domingo, enero 6, 2013, 05:20 AM
e55b Noam Chomsky, el lingüista radical, 6 de enero de 2013

La entrevista Discover: Noam Chomsky, el lingüista radical, Edición del 29 de noviembre de 2011, por Marion Long and Valerie Ross (en paréntesis encontrará mis comentarios).

Hace más de 50 años, él empezó una revolución que hoy todavía está en curso.

Por siglos los expertos sostuvieron que cada idioma es singular. Pero un día en 1956, un joven profesor de lingüística dio una presentación legendaria en el Simposio sobre la Teoría de la Información en MIT. Argumentó que cada oración inteligible se adhiere no sólo a las reglas del lenguaje en particular, sino también a las reglas de una gramática universal que incluye a todos los idiomas. Y en lugar de absorber el lenguaje del medio ambiente y aprender a comunicar por imitación, los niños nacen con la capacidad innata de aprender idiomas, un poder imbuido en nuestra especie por la evolución misma. Casi de la noche a la mañana, el pensamiento de los lingüistas empezó a cambiar.



Avram Noam Chomsky nació en Filadelfia el 7 de diciembre de 1928 hijo de William Chomsky, un catedrático de hebreo, y Elsie Simonofsky de Chomsky, también catedrática y autora de libros para niños. Cuando era joven, Noam leyó los manuscritos de su padre sobre la gramática del hebreo medieval, fijando el escenario para el trabajo que terminaría haciendo. Para 1955 ya estaba enseñando lingüística en el MIT, en donde formuló sus revolucionarias teorías. Hoy en día Chomsky continúa retando la manera en que nos percibimos. "El idioma es el corazón de nuestro ser", dice. "Siempre estamos inmersos en él. Toma un acto fuerte de voluntad tratar de no hablarse a sí mismo cuando se va caminando por la calle, dado que siempre está en acción".

Chomsky también se reveló en contra de la tradición científica al participar en la política. Fue un crítico relevante del involucramiento estadounidense en la guerra de Vietnam y ayudó a organizar la famosa marcha de protesta de 1967 al Pentágono. Cuando los líderes de la marcha fueron arrestados, se encontró compartiendo una celda con Norman Mailer, quien lo describió en su libro "Armies of the Night" [Ejércitos de la noche] como un hombre delgado con peculiaridades muy definidas, con una expresión ascética y un aire de gentileza pero con integridad moral absoluta".

Chomsky discutió sus ideas con el periodista de Connecticut Marion Long después de muchas entrevistas canceladas. "Era una situación muy difícil", Dice Long. La esposa de Chomsky estaba enferma de gravedad, y él era quien la cuidaba. Ella murió unos 10 días antes de que yo lo entrevistara, Era el primer día en que regresaba a dar entrevistas, pero él quería proseguir con ésta". Después le dio aun más tiempo a la reportera de Discover Valerie Ross, contestándole preguntas desde su oficina cargada de historias de MIT hasta que llegó el momento de irse apurado al aeropuerto.

P.- Usted describe al idioma humano como una peculiaridad singular. ¿Qué es lo que nos diferencia?

R.- Los humanos somos diferentes de las otras criaturas y todo ser humano es básicamente idéntico en este aspecto. Si a un niño de una tribu de cazadores-recolectores de la Amazonia lo llevan a Boston, es criado en Boston, el idioma de ese niño será indistinguible en su capacidad de aprender idiomas de alguien que haya nacido en Boston, y viceversa. Esta singular posición humana, que todos tenemos en común, es el corazón en gran parte de nuestra cultura y nuestra vida intelectual imaginativa. Así es como formamos planes, generamos arte creativo y desarrollamos sociedades complejas.

P.- ¿Cuándo y cómo se generó el poder del idioma?

R.- Si uno observa el registro arqueológico encontrará una explosión creativa en una franja angosta de tiempo hace entre 150,000 y 75,000 años. De repente, hay una explosión de artefactos complejos, representaciones simbólicas, medición de eventos celestes, estructuras sociales complejas —una explosión de actividad creativa que casi cada experto de la prehistoria asume debiera estar relacionada con la aparición repentina del lenguaje. Y no pareciera estar conectada con cambios físicos; los sistemas articulatorios y acústicos [La emisión y recepción de sonidos] de los humanos contemporáneos no son muy diferentes de los que había hace 600,000 años. Hubo un cambio cognitivo rápido. Nadie sabe por qué.

(De acuerdo con mi teoría, en ese tiempo un hombre y una mujer fueron un solo ser, hermafrodita autoreproductiva. Lo mencionado por los autores en el párrafo anterior es la evidencia del inicio de la presencia del hombre de manera esporádica y aislada. El hombre tiene el poder de crear imágenes mentales de origen, de nacimiento, cualidad que ni hermafroditas y ni mujeres tienen y eso le permite tener el potencial de crear arte, tecnología y ciencia de nacimiento. En el artículo “e45b No Fuera de África sino Continuidad Regional” tenemos la presencia del Hombre de Mungo en el continente australiano. En Chile, en el extraordinaro sitio arqueológico de Monteverde se encontraron fósiles muy antiguos, pero como no llenaron expectativas de darwinistas, lo más fácil y cómodo fue poner en duda el hallazgo. En África se encontraron unas 3000 piedras de Oldowan [de tiempos muy anteriores] fueron fracturadas por unos 800,000 años. En mi opinión, un varón enseñó a hermafroditas a cortarlas para un uso específico. Ese varón no logró reproducirse y sus enseñanzas perduraron por 800,000 años, rompiendo piedras de la misma manera.

Presento el dibujo 8c de mi libro cicatrices en donde explico las evidencias del surgimiento de un varón, ya de manera continua, nacido de hermafrodita en Afganistán o el norte de Pakistán. Al llegar a la madurez sexual copula con todas las hermafroditas disponibles o posibles y los productos de esas uniones fueron casi la mitad del sexo femenino y un poco más de la mitad del sexo masculino [para cuando llegaban a la edad de reproducirse ya eran aproximadamente mitad y mitad]. De esta manera a cada varón le tocaba una mujer en ese grupo. Los hombres más “inquietos” mostraron su disgusto con este estado de cosas y salieron del grupo en busca de hermafroditas [Así le tocaría todo un grupo de hermafroditas a un solo varón, para luego repetir el proceso]. Un varón se fue al norte de China otro al sur de China y con el tiempo se unieron haciendo del mandarín el lenguaje prevaleciente con 6 o 7 idiomas formando una familia de idiomas. Otro varón salió al sur e hizo al sánscrito el idioma preponderante de nueve familias de idiomas: sanscrito, hindú, iranio, [del cual el arameo es parte de la familia] armenio, balto-slávico, teutón, celta, griego y latín. Con la llegada del varón empezó un proceso de eliminación de idiomas que nos llega hasta nuestros días. Este proceso también nos da a conocer el hecho que dio por resultado la enorme población de dos países: China e India. Los varones que llegaron a esos países no salieron de ellos reproduciéndose a gran escala, mientras que los que viajaron al este, hacia Europa repartieron su energía en muchos lugares).

P.- ¿Qué es lo primero que movió su interés sobre los idiomas humanos?

R.- Leí literatura moderna hebrea y otros textos con mi padre desde edad muy temprana. Debe haber sido allá por 1940 cuando él obtuvo su doctorado de la Universidad Dropsie, escuela hebrea en Filadelfia. Él era un semitista, trabajó la gramática medieval hebrea. No sé si oficialmente los corregí, pero los leí. De esa lectura aprendí algunos conceptos de gramática. Pero en ese entonces, el estudiar gramática significaba organizar los sonidos, observar los tiempos y hacer un catálogo de ese tipo de cosas, y observar cómo se conjuntaban.

P.- Los lingüistas han diferenciado entre gramáticas históricas y las descriptivas. ¿Cuál es la diferencia entre éstas?

R.- La gramática histórica es un estudio de cómo, digamos, se desarrolló el inglés moderno del inglés medio y cómo éste se desarrolló del inglés antiguo y cómo éste se desarrolló del teutón y éste se desarrolló de los idiomas denominados proto-indo-europeos, un sistema fuente que nadie habla, por lo que se tiene que tratar de reconstruir. Es un esfuerzo para reconstruir cómo se desarrollaron los idiomas a través del tiempo, algo análogo al estudio de la evolución. La gramática descriptiva es un intento de hacer una relación de lo que es el sistema presente ya sea para una sociedad o un individuo, de acuerdo a lo que se esté estudiando. Es algo más o menos como la diferencia entre la evolución y la sicología.

P.- Los lingüistas de la era de su padre, ¿qué es lo que hacían?

R.- A ellos les enseñaron metodología de campo. De esta manera, supongamos que usted quería escribir la gramática cheroquí. Usted iría a donde ellos viven y obtenía información de los nativos que hablan el idioma, llamados informantes.

P.- ¿Qué tipo de preguntas haría el lingüista?

R.- Supongamos que usted es un lingüista antropológico de China y quiere estudiar mi idioma. Lo primero que usted trataría de hacer es ver qué tipos de sonidos uso y luego preguntar cómo esos sonidos son conjuntados. De esta manera por qué puedo decir "tú" y no puedo decir "tpú", por ejemplo, y cuál es la organización de los sonidos. Cómo pueden ser combinados. Si usted observa la manera en que las palabras son organizadas, ¿hay un verbo en tiempo pasado? Si lo hay, ¿va después del verbo o lo precede?, o ¿de qué manera se expresa? y usted seguiría haciendo más y más preguntas como éstas.

P.- Pero usted no estuvo satisfecho con ese proceder. ¿Por qué?

R.- Estaba en la Universidad de Pennsylvania y el tópico de mi tesis fue "La gramática moderna del hebreo hablado", el cual conocía bastante bien. Conseguí informantes que hablaran hebreo y empecé a hacer preguntas para obtener la información. Sin embargo, en cierto momento se me ocurrió: esto es ridículo. Estoy haciendo preguntas para las cuales ya sé las respuestas.

P.- Pronto usted empezó a desarrollar una metodología diferente a la lingüística. ¿Cómo empezaron a emerger esas ideas?

R.- Allá por el inicio de la década de 1950, cuando ya me había graduado de Harvard, generalmente se asumía que el lenguaje, como muchas otras actividades humanas, es sólo una colección de comportamientos aprendidos desarrollados a través del mismo método usado para entrenar animales —por refuerzo. Eso era virtualmente un dogma en ese entonces. Pero había 2 ó 3 de nosotros que no lo creíamos, y empezamos a considerar otras maneras de visualizar las cosas.

En particular, observamos un hecho muy elemental: cada idioma provee una manera de construir e interpretar infinitamente muchas expresiones estructuradas, cada una de las cuales tiene una interpretación semántica y una expresión en sonido. Por lo tanto debe haber lo que es denominado procedimiento generativo, una habilidad para generar una cantidad infinita de oraciones o expresiones y luego conectarlas a sistemas de pensamiento y sistemas de sensores motrices. Uno tiene que empezar por enfocarse en esta peculiaridad central de la generación sin límites de expresiones estructuradas y sus interpretaciones. Esas ideas cristalizaron y se convirtieron en parte de lo que se ha dado en llamar la estructura biolingüística, la cual ve al idioma como un elemento de la biología humana, algo así como, digamos, el sistema visual.

P.- Usted creó la teoría de que todos los humanos tienen una "gramática universal". ¿Qué es eso?

R.- Se refiere al componente genético de la facultad lingüística humana. Por ejemplo, tomemos la última oración. No es una secuencia de sonidos al azar. Tiene una estructura muy definida y una interpretación semántica muy específica; significa algo y no algo más, y suena de una manera muy particular, no de alguna otra manera. Pues bien, ¿cómo se hace eso? Existen 2 posibilidades. La primera: es un milagro. Y la segunda: Se tiene un sistema interno de reglas que determina las estructuras y las interpretaciones. Personalmente, no creo que sea un milagro.

(Debido a que se tiene un sistema interno de reglas que determina las estructuras y las interpretaciones, los bebés pueden aprender el idioma o los idiomas a los que estén expuestos y no existe tal cosa como que unos idiomas son más difíciles que otros. El idioma o los idiomas a los que estén expuestos esos aprenderán los bebés. Los requisitos para aprenderlos son: 1.- Que la exposición sea de bulto, o sea en persona, preferiblemente con ademanes y gesticulaciones de acuerdo con la palabra hablada. Si a los bebés les ponen voces grabadas estas serán registradas como ruidos y no aprenderán ningún idioma con esa metodología. 2.- Que haya continuidad en la exposición. Un bebé requiere la exposición a los idiomas que les quieran enseñar día con día. 3.- Preferiblemente que más de una persona le hable al bebé en cada idioma que le quieran enseñar. Esa será una gran ventaja dado que aprenderán en automático que cada persona tiene su propio vocabulario y estilo. No estoy descubriendo el agua caliente. Esto se hace de manera natural en las fronteras de los países con diferentes idiomas y los bebés son multilinguistas en zonas del planeta en donde hay países chicos y se hablan diferentes idiomas. En Europa existen muchísimas personas que hablan varios idiomas desde que son niños).

P.- ¿Cuáles fueron las primeras reacciones a sus ideas lingüísticas?

R.- Al principio la mayor parte de la gente las descartó o las ignoró. Estábamos en un período de ciencia comportacional, el estudio de la acción y del comportamiento, incluyendo el control y la modificación del mismo. El comportacionalismo sostenía que uno podía básicamente convertir a una persona en cualquier cosa, dependiendo de cómo se organizara el medio ambiente y los procedimientos de entrenamiento. La idea de que un componente genético entraba crucialmente en el tópico era considerado algo exótico, para ponerlo en términos simples.

Después a mi idea herética le fue dado el nombre de "hipótesis de la innatalidad" y hubo una gran cantidad de artículos que la condenaban. Usted puede leer ahora mismo en revistas de prestigio, que el lenguaje es sólo el resultado de la cultura, el medio ambiente y del entrenamiento. Es una noción de sentido común, en cierto modo. Si todos aprendemos un idioma, ¿qué tan difícil puede éste ser? Vemos que los efectos del medio ambiente existen. La gente que crece en Inglaterra habla inglés y no swahili y los principios reales —no están accesibles al consciente. No podemos ver dentro de nosotros mismos y encontrar los principios ocultos que organizan nuestro comportamiento de lenguaje más de lo que podemos ver de los principios que nos permiten mover nuestros cuerpos. Sucede internamente.

P.- ¿Cómo le hacen los lingüistas para buscar estos principios ocultos?

R.- Usted puede encontrar un marco de información acerca de un lenguaje a base de recolectarla. Por ejemplo, el lingüista chino que estudia mi idioma puede hacerme varias preguntas y recolectar las respuestas. Eso sería un tipo de información. Otro tipo de información sería grabar cada cosa que digo por 3 días. Usted puede investigar un idioma a base de estudiar lo que pasa en el cerebro mientras la gente aprende o usa un idioma. Los lingüistas de hoy en día debieran concentrarse en descubrir las reglas y principios que usted, por ejemplo, está usando ahora mismo cuando interpreta y comprende las oraciones que estoy produciendo y cuando usted produce las suyas.

P.- ¿Acaso esto no es como el viejo sistema de gramática que usted rechazó?

R.- No. En el estudio tradicional de la gramática uno se concentra en la organización de los sonidos y en la formación de palabras y tal vez en unas cuantas observaciones acerca de la sintaxis. En la lingüística generativa de los últimos 50 años, usted pregunta, para cada idioma, ¿cuál es el sistema de reglas y principios que determinan un abanico infinito de expresiones estructuradas? Y luego asigna interpretaciones específicas para ellas.

P.- ¿Las imágenes cerebrales han cambiado la manera en que entendemos el idioma?

R.- Hay un estudio reciente muy interesante sobre la actividad cerebral con el uso del idioma llevado a cabo por un grupo en Milán. Le dieron a sujetos 2 tipos de material escrito con base en un lenguaje sin sentido. Uno era lenguaje simbólico modelado de acuerdo a las reglas del italiano, pero que los sujetos del estudio no lo sabían. El otro fue instrumentado para violar las reglas de la gramática universal. Para tomar un caso en particular, digamos que usted quería poner una oración en negativo: Juan estuvo aquí, Juan no estuvo aquí. Hay cosas particulares que usted tiene permitido hacer dentro de los idiomas. Usted puede poner la negación en ciertas posiciones, pero usted no las puede poner en otras posiciones. De esta manera, un idioma inventado puso el elemento de la negación en un lugar permisible y el otro lo puso en un lugar no permitido. El grupo en Milán parece haber encontrado que las oraciones sin sentido permisibles producían actividad en las áreas de lenguaje del cerebro, pero las no permitidas —las que violaban los principios de la gramática universal— no mostraban actividad. Eso significa que la gente estaba tratando a las oraciones no permitidas como un rompecabezas, no como un idioma. Es un resultado preliminar, pero fuertemente sugiere que los principios lingüísticos descubiertos en base a investigar los idiomas tienen correlaciones neurales, como uno esperaría y tuviera la esperanza de que así fuera.

P.- Los estudios genéticos recientes también ofrecen algunas pistas acerca de los idiomas, ¿verdad?

R.- En años recientes se descubrió un gene denominado "FOXP2". Este gene es particularmente interesante debido a que sus mutaciones corresponden con algunas deficiencias en el uso del idioma. Se relaciona a lo que ha sido denominado activación orofacial, la manera en que usted controla su boca, su cara y su lengua cuando habla. De esta manera, el FOXP2 hace creíble que tenga algo que ver con el uso del idioma. Se encuentra en muchos otros organismos, no sólo en los humanos y funciona en maneras diferentes en especies diferentes; estos genes no hacen una sola cosa. Sin embargo, es un paso preliminar interesante para encontrar la base genética para algunos aspectos del idioma.

P.- Usted dice que el idioma innato es singularmente humano, sin embargo, el FOXP2 muestra una continuidad entre las especies. ¿Es esa una contradicción?

R.- Casi no tiene sentido el que haya una continuidad. Nadie duda que la capacidad del idioma humano está basado en los genes, las neuronas, y cosas de esa índole. Los mecanismos que están involucrados en el uso, entendimiento, adquisición y producción de lenguaje en algún nivel se muestra por todo el mundo animal y de hecho a través del mundo orgánico; se encuentran en bacterias. Pero eso no dice casi nada acerca de la evolución o de los orígenes comunes. Las especies que tal vez sean más similares a los humanos en ralación a algo remotamente parecido a la producción de lenguaje son los pájaros, pero eso no se debe a que haya un origen común. Es lo que se ha dado en llamar convergencia, desarrollo de manera independiente de sistemas análogos. El FOXP2 es muy interesante, sin embargo, está lidiando con partes más o menos perifércos del lenguaje como la producción física de éste. Lo que sea descubierto acerca de este gene es poco probable que tenga algún efecto en la teoría lingüística.

(Los genes son blocks de construcción que tienen más de una función y que además pueden asociarse para tener funciones adicionales. El primer genoma importante en ser descifrado fue el del ser humano. El segundo fue el de simios y resultaron 98% similares al del ser humano. Los darwinisitas se pusieron a pregonar que ellos habían hablado de la cercanía que había entre los seres humanos y los simios, diciendo prácticamente “Te lo dije”. Luego se descifró el genoma de los ratones y resultó 99% similar al del ser humano. ¿Quedrá eso decir que primero fuimos simios, luego ratones y luego seres humanos? Por supuesto que no. La cantidad de genes en común entre las especies no dice casi nada acerca de la evolución o del origen común más allá que tuvieron invasiones de bacterias y virus muy similares).

P.- En los últimos 20 años usted ha estado trabajando sobre un entendimiento minimalista del lenguaje. ¿Qué es lo que eso conlleva?

R.- Supongamos que el lenguaje se pareciera a los copos de nieve; toman la forma que toman debido a una ley natural, con la condición de que satisfaga esas restricciones externas. Esa metodología de la investigación del lenguaje ciertamente es una solución perfecta para una expresión semántica —el significado—, pero diseñada muy malamente para una expresión articulada, el sonido particular que usted hace cuando dice "beisbol" y no "árbol".

P.- ¿Cuáles son las grandes preguntas sobresalientes en lingüística?

R.- Hay muchas incógnitas. Algunas son preguntas sobre el "qué", como: ¿Qué es un idioma? ¿Cuáles son las reglas y principios que entran entre lo que usted y yo estamos haciendo? Otras son preguntas del "cómo": ¿Cómo adquirimos usted y yo esta capacidad? ¿Qué es lo que hay en nuestros dotes genéticos y experiencia en las leyes de la naturaleza? Y entonces vienen las preguntas del "por qué", las cuales son mucho más difíciles: ¿Por qué son los principios del lenguaje de una manera y no de otra? ¿Hasta qué punto es verdad que el diseño básico del lenguaje otorga una solución óptima a las condiciones externas que ese idioma debe satisfacer? Ese es un problema enorme. ¿Hasta qué punto podemos relacionar lo que entendemos acerca de la naturaleza del lenguaje a la actividad que se está llevando a cabo en el cerebro? Y ¿pudiera haber, a fin de cuentas, una pregunta seria sobre la base genética para el lenguaje? En todas estas áreas ha habido mucho progreso, pero todavía quedan muchas lagunas.

P.- Cada padre se ha maravillado de la manera en que los niños desarrollan el lenguaje. Pareciera increíble que conociéramos tan poco sobre este proceso.

R.- Sabemos que un infante, al nacer, tiene algo de información acerca del lenguaje de su madre. Puede distinguir el lenguaje de su madre de otros idiomas cuando ambos son hablados por una mujer bilingüe. Hay todo un abanico de detalles del medio ambiente, lo que William James llamó "confusión sonora creciente". De alguna manera el infante reflexivamente selecciona de ese medio ambiente complejo la información que está relacionada con el idioma. Ningún otro organismo puede hacer eso; un chimpancé no lo puede hacer. Y luego rápida y reflexivamente el infante procede a obtener un sistema interno, el cual a su tiempo genera las capacidades que ahora estamos usando. ¿Qué es lo que está pasando en el cerebro del infante? Qué elementos del genoma humano están contribuyendo en este proceso? ¿Cómo evolucionaron estas cosas?

P.- ¿Qué hay del significado a un nivel más alto? Las historias clásicas que la gente vuelve a relatar de generación en generación tienen una cantidad de temas recurrentes. ¿Pudiera esta repetición indicar algo acerca del idioma humano innato?

R.- En una de las historias típicas acerca de las hadas madrinas, el encantador príncipe es convertido en un sapo por la bruja y al final de la historia la bella princesa llega y besa al sapo que se convierte en príncipe de nuevo. Pues bien, cada niño sabe que el sapo en realidad es el príncipe, Sin embargo, ¿cómo lo saben? Todas las características físicas dicen que es un sapo. ¿Qué es lo que lo hace un príncipe? Pareciera ser que hay un principio: identificamos a las personas y a los animales y otras criaturas vivientes por una peculiaridad que es llamada "continuidad síquica". Las interpretamos como que tienen algún tipo de mente o alma o algo interno que persiste independientemente de sus peculiaridades físicas. Los científicos no creen en eso, pero lo creen todos los niños y todos los humanos sabemos cómo interpretar el mundo de esa manera.

P.- Usted se oye como si la ciencia lingüística acabara de empezar.

R.- Hay muchos hechos sencillos descriptivos acerca de los lenguajes que simplemente no son entendidos: Cómo las oraciones obtienen su significado, cómo obtienen su sonido y cómo otras personas los comprenden. ¿Por qué es que los lenguajes no usan el orden lineal en la computación? Por ejemplo, tome una oración simple como ¿pueden nadar las águilas que vuelan? Usted la entiende, todo mundo la entiende. Un niño entiende que se está preguntando si las águilas pueden nadar. No se está preguntando si las águilas pueden volar. Usted puede decir "Las águilas que vuelan nadando". No puede decir "Las águilas que volando nadan". Significando que, ¿es el caso que las águilas que están volando nadan? Estas son reglas que todo mundo sabe, las sabe reflexivamente. Pero ¿por qué? Todavía es un gran misterio y el origen de estos principios básicamente se desconoce.

Disponible para pláticas sobre mi teoría.

Félix Rocha Martínez
www.cicatrices.com.mx
frocham@yahoo.com
Saltillo, Coahuila, México
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Commentaries to Decoding the Ancient Secrets of White Shaman
lunes, diciembre 24, 2012, 02:47 AM
i54b Commentaries to Decoding the Ancient Secrets of White Shaman 24.07.2012

Following you will find a transcription of the article Decoding the Ancient Secrets of White Shaman published by Discover magazine´s edition of July 24 of 2012, written by Will Hunt. At the end you will find my commentaries.

Rock paintings near the Rio Grande contain hidden messages about a mysterious 4,000-year-old religion. Now one archaeologist has learned to read them.



Carolyn Boyd guides her pickup down a cliffside trail overlooking Dead Man’s Pass, a limestone canyon cut deep into the backcountry of southwest Texas. A ring of black vultures circles overhead. Boyd slows the truck and scans the canyon for what has drawn their interest. On top of a boulder, splayed out like a ritual sacrifice, is a half-eaten goat carcass. “Mountain lion,” she says.

The region known as the Lower Pecos is an arid 21,000-square-mile expanse of southwest Texas and northern Mexico surrounding the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande. The land is barbed with cacti, teeming with rattlesnakes, and ridden with impassable canyons. But more than 4,000 years ago, these barrens were home to a flourishing culture of hunter-gatherers, creators of some of the world’s most complex and beautiful prehistoric rock art. The literal meaning of those paintings had been dismissed as an unsolvable mystery—until recently.

Boyd parks at the bottom of the canyon. In her early fifties, with high cheekbones and dark hair pulled back under a hat, she is both elegant and hardy, like a pioneer woman from a classic Western. She sets a brisk pace up the side of the canyon. Her destination is Delicado Shelter, one of some 300 shallow caves in the region known for paintings of human figures, deer, canines, felines, birds, rabbits, snakes, and other desert animals. Boyd, an archaeologist and director of SHUMLA (Studying Human Use of Materials, Land, and Art), an education and research center in Comstock, Texas, will spend the afternoon scouring the shelter for insight into the ancient residents and their spiritual world.

Through decades of dogged work, Boyd has also developed a system to understand this enigmatic art. Working like a detective, she discovered a symbolic code that reveals narratives in the paintings, which she believes can be read, almost like an ancient language. Just as finding the Rosetta stone in Egypt enabled linguists to decipher ancient hieroglyphs, these paintings help unlock the secrets of a majestic religious system that blanketed Mesoamerica nearly four millennia before the arrival of Columbus. Boyd has discovered that myths and rituals similar to those written in the rocks have survived in the Huichol, a modern tribe now living in the mountains of western Mexico, and in other cultures throughout Mexico and the American Southwest.

Genies on the Wall

At White Shaman, gigantic human figures swooped on the walls overhead like genies escaping from magic lamps. Some wore fabulous headdresses or gripped scepters

When Boyd first visited the Lower Pecos more than 20 years ago, she had no intention of becoming an archaeologist. At the time, she was an artist living in Old Town Spring, Texas, with her four-year-old son, Jeff, making a small living selling watercolors out of a local gallery. But when she gazed up at the paintings on the shelter walls, she was stunned. The largest of the 4,000-year-old murals stretched over 200 feet, containing hundreds of red, yellow, black, and white images. Gigantic human figures swooped on the walls overhead like genies escaping from magic lamps. Some wore fabulous headdresses or gripped scepterlike objects; others appeared to be half animal, with wings or antlers. There were felines with bristling fur, deer with delicate antlers, canines with tiny teeth. The largest figures reached up 30 feet; creating them would have required enormous scaffoldings and incalculable hours with crude brushes and mineral paints. The paint had faded, but Boyd could imagine walking through the canyons when the walls had been ablaze with color.

She scoured libraries for books on the rock art. Archaeologists, she read, believed the paintings were related to shamanism, the common religious practice among tribes in the region. The shaman was a tribe’s liaison with the spirit world. During rituals, he would fast, dance, or eat hallucinogenic plants to induce an out-of-body trance in which he would travel into the otherworld. There, he fought off demons or consulted the spirits of the ancestors before regaining consciousness and relating his experiences to the rest of the tribe.

Researchers suspected that the paintings conveyed some aspect of the shamanic ritual, but most thought the rock art would never be truly understood. Archaeologists usually learn about prehistoric art from the ancient artists’ descendants, who continue the traditions of their ancestors. But in the Lower Pecos, those who created the paintings had vanished. No one knew why they left or where they went, making it impossible to identify their descendants. “Any attempt at interpretation can only be speculative,” Boyd read in Texas A&M archaeologist Harry Shafer’s book Ancient Texans. “The meanings are lost when a culture comes to an end.”

Order Out of Chaos

For Boyd, the prospect of an unsolvable mystery made the paintings only more compelling. A few months later, she returned to a rock shelter called White Shaman (shown in the photos on page 1 and page 4). Carved into a limestone bluff near the confluence of the Pecos River and the Rio Grande, the shelter marked the geographic center of the region. Boyd was deeply impressed by the frieze of crimson, black, and yellow human figures covering the back wall, especially the shimmering white figure that gave the shelter its name.
Boyd began sketching the paintings, studying them carefully.

Archaeologists believed that the images at White Shaman were essentially unrelated, each depicting an individual ritual, and at first glance, the mural did seem chaotic: Swarms of indecipherable markings surrounded figures painted one on top of the other.

But looking at the mural with an artist’s eye, Boyd saw something different. She noticed a row of five identical human figures spaced evenly across the length of the mural. The design had to be deliberate. “I saw a carefully planned composition, governed by patterns,” she says. If these patterns could be broken down and identified, she thought, perhaps the ancient artists’ lost messages could be retrieved.

Boyd knew she would need more than a few sketches to do that. She had to rely not on the instinct of the artist but the hard science of the archaeologist. So in 1991, at the age of 33, Boyd enrolled as an anthropology major at Texas A&M and told Harry Shafer, founder of the department’s archaeology program, that she wanted to do an interpretive study on Lower Pecos rock art. Although Shafer had dismissed the possibility of interpreting the paintings in his book, he signed off on her proposal.

Boyd began with a comparative study of two painted rock shelters called Rattlesnake Canyon and Panther Cave. During long weekends, she would drop Jeff off at his dad’s, load her camping gear into her Toyota, and make the seven-hour drive to the Lower Pecos.

Inside Panther Cave, ancient artists painted hundreds of human figures with wings, antlers, rabbit ears, or fur, representing spirit animals that served as underworld guides.

One afternoon that fall, Boyd stood beneath the tawny overhang of Panther Cave, where ancient artists had painted hundreds of black-, red-, and saffron-colored human and animal figures in what looked like a jumbled fray. Sketch pad in hand, she studied a human figure about two feet tall on the panel’s right side. The figure (see next page) had wings coming down from its arms; it hovered above a circle with a long, wavy line emanating out.

Boyd froze. She had seen these images before. Back at College Station, she tracked down a 1930s book of rock art drawings and turned to a rendering of Rattlesnake Canyon. Near the center of the panel was a winged human figure beneath a circle with a long, wavy line attached to it, nearly identical to what she had seen at Panther Cave. A survey of drawings from other shelters revealed dozens more of this pattern. Like the figure at Panther Cave, the human figures all displayed animal attributes, such as wings, deer antlers, rabbit ears, or fur. “If they were painting these images over and over, they had to have been significant,” she thought. But what did they mean?
Boyd found answers in studies of tribes throughout Mexico and the American Southwest, where shamans consistently described their cosmos as vertically tiered: Spirits were said to live in heaven, on Earth, or in the underworld. She then reexamined the humans in the paintings. They were placed above, below, and on top of the wavy lines. Could she be looking at 4,000-year-old depictions of shamans journeying into the underworld?

Boyd hunted for clues. One came from Ralph Beals, a UCLA anthropologist who studied the Yaqui, a tribe in northwestern Mexico and southern Arizona. In Beals’s work, a Yaqui shaman said that when he journeyed to the underworld, he “passed through the body of a snake.” This was a pattern: Nearly every tribe in the region envisioned a serpent as the divider between the earthly and the spiritual realms, explaining the wavy lines on the Lower Pecos rocks.

The same kinds of stories explained the animal adornments; when shamans traveled to the underworld, each had a “spirit animal” for protector and guide.

Portal to the Underworld

On Easter weekend in 1992, Boyd visited Mystic Shelter, about 30 miles east of White Shaman. At the foot of the shelter, her eyes opened wide. Two horizontal stone ledges, one above the other, divided the shallow cave into upper, middle, and lower sections, like a diorama of the shamanic cosmos. About halfway up the rock face, she saw a single red-colored human figure. It bristled with animal fur right above an undulating black line with a gap in the middle. In an outlined space beneath the line was a row of human figures in black.

Here was the whole pattern—the human figure covered in fur, probably the shaman; the arched, wavy line, the serpent dividing earthly and spirit realms; and, at the line’s center, the portal through which the shaman could descend. As for the black human figures beneath the wavy line, they were ancestral spirits in the underworld, Boyd was convinced.

“It’s like a puzzle,” Boyd explains. “You find one piece, then another, and pretty soon all these pieces that didn’t make any sense are falling into place.”

One morning later that spring, Boyd rolled up her pants and waded across the Devils River to Cedar Springs, a horseshoe-shaped site a few miles north of Mystic Shelter (see photo above). Cedar Springs had a cascade of human figures holding spear-throwers and long staffs adorned with feathers. As Boyd scrutinized the paintings, three images, one beside the other, caught her eye. First was a human figure with antlers tipped with peculiar black dots. Nearby was a cluster of fringed black dots with spears sticking out of them.

Alongside those were tiny deer figures, also impaled with spears. Her mind raced—she had seen the same group of images at White Shaman.

Again Boyd dove into the ethnographic texts. This time her first clue came from a photograph of a yarn painting by a modern Huichol artist.

It depicted a deer with dots on its body and attached to its antlers, just like the curious black-tipped antlers she had seen in the rock art.

The Huichol people are almost unique in the Americas. Protected by the fortresslike Sierra Madre mountains (Nayarit, Mexico), the group had escaped notice by Europeans when they arrived in the 16th century. Huichol culture remained virtually unchanged, providing a rare 21st-century window into pre-Columbian times.

In the literature, Boyd read of a peculiar Huichol pilgrimage during the rainy season to Wirikuta (in the State of San Luis Potosí, in the zone of Real de Catorce and Matehuala), a desert plateau they considered their sacred homeland in the northeast. There they collected peyote, a hallucinogenic cactus that helps them contact ancestral spirits in the otherworld.

Boyd was intrigued by the way the Huichol gathered peyote. They stayed low and moved across the plateau holding bows and arrows. It was the same way they hunted deer. To the Huichol, deer and peyote were a single sacred symbol. When one of the pilgrims found a peyote cactus peeking above-ground in the desert, he pulled his bowstring taut and shot an arrow through its center. He was “slaying” the peyote, but he was also slaying a deer. Boyd recalled the speared dots and deer in the ancient paintings. She wondered: Could she find a connection to peyote there as well?

For most of the year, peyote stays hidden below ground; only when it rains does it become visible on the surface. Deer follow the same pattern. During drought in arid environments, deer are absent, but as soon as it rains, they travel great distances to eat sprouting vegetation. Deer, peyote, and rain: The three are all linked.

In an old excavation report Boyd read that archaeologists had discovered remnants of peyote cacti from a site near White Shaman.

The peyote, which had been flattened into button shapes and mixed with other plant materials, were dated to about a thousand years before the paintings. The molded buttons were proof that the ancient inhabitants of the Lower Pecos had used peyote in rituals.

When Boyd returned to White Shaman, she studied a human figure with deer antlers tipped with black dots. Surrounding him were fringed dots and deer, both with spears sticking out of them.

What had once seemed like an incoherent scramble now appeared obvious. The fringed dots on the wall were buttons of peyote stuck with spears, much like the Huichol peyote hunt in Wirikuta. The deer figure with dotted antlers corresponded to the deer with peyote on his antlers in the modern Huichol yarn paintings. The deeper Boyd delved, the more the mural seemed like a kind of handbook, “a 4,000-year-old instruction
manual for how to properly conduct a religious ritual.”

The Story of Creation

It wasn’t until 2007, when Boyd was studying the Huichol myth of creation, that it all made total sense. In the beginning, the story goes, the first humans ventured through the watery underworld in the West. Led by a sacred deer, they lit their way with torches, heading east until they emerged at Dawn Mountain. There the deer sacrificed himself, allowing the humans to kill him. After he died, peyote sprouted from his body and the tips of his antlers. When the humans ate the deer they were transformed into deities, and the cosmos began.

The next time Boyd examined the mural at White Shaman (see close-up at right), she took a deep breath. Every detail seemed to match. The five human figures were the original humans, making the journey eastward. Painted above each was a different otherworldly figure, including the White Shaman. These represented the deities into which the humans transformed.

Below the human figure farthest right was a large, horizontal band of faded black-and-red lines. Knowing that the Huichol associated black and red with the underworld, Boyd believed this pictograph represented the watery underworld in the West, from which the first humans emerged. Next to the underworld was an isolated red deer; this had to be the sacred deer that led the humans on the journey east. (Note: The red deer on the opposite page may seem to be facing west, but the ancient rock artists always depicted west on the right of a pictogram.)

On the mural’s left-hand side, meanwhile, she found a wavy brown line shaped like an arch. This was Dawn Mountain, the final destination and the place where the sun rose for the first time. Hovering above the mountain were the symbols of peyote-deer: fringed dots and a deer stuck with a spear. Directly on top of the mountain was an antler-headed human. This was the sacred deer ascending from the underworld. The black dots on his antlers represented the just-sprouted peyote.

Boyd was reading a story that hadn’t been read for thousands of years. “I was looking at an account of the formation of the cosmos,” she says, “with multiple levels of meaning. It is a creation story, a prescription for ritual, in a sense, a cosmological map.”

Boyd believes the paintings “can be read like a language, with patterns that can be broken down and understood.” But her interpretation has been controversial. Retired University of Texas archaeologist Solveig Turpin, who began researching in the Lower Pecos in the 1970s, believes connecting 4,000-year-old paintings to a contemporary tribe is unwarranted. “You’re reaching across thousands of years and hundreds of miles,” she says. “It just doesn’t hold up.”

Anthropologist Stacy Schaefer of California State University at Chico thinks Boyd’s links make sense. “On a basic level, hunting and gathering people all had similar relationships to the environment. So there are archetypes that we should expect to see in the paintings,” she says.

Boyd herself takes great care to qualify her theory. She says it wasn’t actually the Huichol who made the 4,000-year-old paintings—it was their distant ancestors or relations. The Huichol rituals appear so prominently only because their culture is the best preserved in the region. But the Huichol are just one tribe among many with mythology linked to the paintings in the canyons of the Lower Pecos.

Boyd has found similar connections in the mythology of the Hopi, the Zapotec, and other tribes throughout Mexico and the American Southwest. The rock art, Boyd says, displays an archaic core: an ancient belief system that has been widely shared in Mesoamerican mythological traditions.

In July 2010 Boyd invited a Huichol shaman from the Sierra Madre to White Shaman. In his sixties, bright-eyed with a square jaw, the shaman wore a traditional dress: a wide-brimmed hat, a brightly colored woven shoulder bag, flowing white pants, and a shirt embroidered with small deer figures and colorful peyote symbols. For some minutes he studied the mural. He pointed to the watery, black-and-red underworld in the West, to the antler-headed human, to the humans marching across the rock face, then to the deities rising above each of the humans.

Then the shaman started weeping. “These are my grandfathers’ grandfathers’ grandfathers’ grandfathers,” he said through his tears.

(End of transcription)

My commentaries:

We have read Carolyn Boyd tell us how a visit to a rock painting site changed the direction of her life. Now let´s contrast this experience with mine:

One day (in 1965 while I was studying at College of the Ozarks, Clarksville, Arkansas, a Presbyterian school) I faced the biblical passage of the Creation (Genesis 1:26). God created a man, so says the Bible. But I asked myself: a man as he is today? That is impossible! A man is structured to reproduce himself through a woman and if there is no such woman, that structure would be useless. How would he reproduce himself? If there was no solution to this problem, the species would end right there and then, at the time of his death.

Then I said to myself, God got himself into the trap of time. Either He created a woman within Adam’s reproductive life or he has no human species at all. I considered that it was too big a flaw for someone who is Omniscient. But what if a woman was first? I asked myself. It would all be the same: alone, without a male, she can´t reproduce either. The only solution would have been to have the first creature be “self reproductive”. Voila! The rest of the passage coincides perfectly with this concept. God created a hermaphrodite that reproduced by herself. Time went by. But given that she needs no one and no one needs her, she gets lonely and clamors to God, who sees that it was not good for her to be alone. God tells her: "I am going to give you a companion, flesh of your flesh and bones of your bones", and the hermaphrodite gave birth to a baby boy. Fabulous! Now everything works well (the rest of this account you may find it in my response to Richard Dawkins’ article “The Angry Evolutionist” in this same blog).

Those thoughts in a Christian school? And I let my professors know them. They told me: Study them well, back them up and put them in writing, for only the truth shall make us free.

Now let us continue with the experience of Carolyn Boyd.

So in 1991, at the age of 33, Boyd enrolled as an anthropology major at Texas A&M and told Harry Shafer, founder of the department’s archaeology program, that she wanted to do an interpretive study on Lower Pecos rock art. Although Shafer had dismissed the possibility of interpreting the paintings in his book, he signed off on her proposal.

What similarities! Religion teachers encouraging a student to study a possible mistake in their teachings and an anthropology teacher accepting the proposal to study the possibility of interpreting the paintings that he had dismissed in his book Ancient Texans.

Truly, great teachers make a great difference.

Available for talks over my theory

Felix Rocha-Martinez
www.cicatrices.com.mx
frocham@yahoo.com.mx
Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico
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