Is anyone familiar with Jackendoff’s work in linguistics?

  • Is anyone familiar with Jackendoff’s work in linguistics?

    Posted by Whit Blauvelt on May 10, 2024 at 4:17 pm

    Ray Jackendoff’s program has been to examine the structure of the mind/brain through linguistic evidence. While he doesn’t (in what I’ve read) make any reference to the hemispheres, his model of “parallel architecture,” where modules of different competencies sit side-by-side, linked by interfaces, might well fit with the hemispheric hypothesis as an instantiation at the largest scale of just that — although Jackendoff’s linguistic evidence supports there being more than just two.

    Most discussion here leans towards the spiritual side rather than extending the scientific, despite half of McGilchrist’s books being devoted to advancing the latter. As much of the observed hemispheric trouble relates to language, and the left hemisphere’s tendency to too often lead us away from truth by it, while at the same time we’re drawn here by McGilchrist’s masterly writing, it could well be the case that a deeper study of linguistics, such as Jackendoff examples, should produce dovetailing insights.

    Anyone else here looking at work in linguistics in this light?

    Shannon McCarthy replied 1 week, 6 days ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Peter Barus

    May 10, 2024 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you Whit, for inspiring thoughts…

    “language, and the left hemisphere’s tendency to too often lead us away from truth by it”

    Reading this, it occurs to me that this “leading” is structural, not in any way intentional; inherent to language, not some nefarious scheme. The LH is in a way confined to language and the world it encapsulates, like a mosaic that only shows the tiles, and nothing of the between-ness that gives the image meaning, or like the saccades between visual impressions that leave invisible blind-spots. Seeing a mosaic we get the meaning without ever seeing those connections, which may be the function of language, structure, and the LH as well. That is, a feature, not a bug.

    And structure itself is only a part of something much greater, a visible armature, which may support much visible refinement enhancing the appearance of wholeness and completeness… but like a statue, only conveys movement with, at best, a hint, like the implication of wind in flowing garments, or (somehow) angelic weightlessness.

    I think it was Drew Kopp who said, at a workshop in London I was lucky to attend, “Did you ever care about speaking in such a way that what you didn’t say was present? Probably not. But that’s where making a difference lies.”

    “Out here” in the space of a conversation, where my internal state is negligible, is where live is really lived.

  • Shannon McCarthy

    May 10, 2024 at 10:41 pm

    Hi again Whit,

    Jackendoff is new to me, thanks for the heads up. It looks like he has two great books out. Is it A User’s Guide to Thought and Meaning that you recommend, or his 2002 Foundations book?

  • Shannon McCarthy

    May 11, 2024 at 5:27 pm

    “The Parallel Architecture on Language and Elsewhere”, 2023- just gave it a read- thanks for letting us know.

    “We do not understand conceptual structures very well yet.” -Jackendoff

    It all seemed pretty straight forward until he gets to the Spatial Structure part. I can see why you’d want to talk about his ideas on parallel architecture and maybe his thoughts on tonal music theory and its implications or overlap with the hemispheres! Nice little bit here:

    Further consideration suggests that Spatial Structure cannot be just a <i style=”font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; -webkit-text-size-adjust: 100%;”>visual representation. The size and shape of objects and their spatial layout can be determined haptically, that is, through the sense of touch. In addition, information about the spatial configuration of one’s body comes from proprioception (Lackner, 1988; Lackner & Dizio, 2000). All three of these—vision, hapsis, and proprioception—have to be correlated with each other in order to understand what is going on in physical space. This job belongs to Spatial Structure. Moreover, Spatial Structure is not just for perceiving: it also has to be used to plan action in the world.”

    What part are you thinking about? I’m curious!

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