CHANGING MINDS. has published their Annual Question (which they ask a bunch of smart people), and this year it’s “What have you changed your mind about? Why?” Answers involving language come from Daniel Everett (“I believed at one time that culture and language were largely independent. Yet there is a growing body of research that suggests the opposite – deep reflexes from culture are to be found in grammar.”), Gary Marcus (“Instead, I have now come to believe, language must be, largely, a recombination of spare parts, a kind of jury-rigged kluge built largely out of cognitive machinery that evolved for other purposes, long before there was such a thing as language. If there’s something special about language, it is not the parts from which it is composed, but the way in which they are put together.”), Marti Hearst (“simple statistics computed over very large text collections can do better at difficult language processing tasks than more complex, elaborate algorithms”), and Lera Boroditsky (“I set out to show that language didn’t affect perception, but I found exactly the opposite. It turns out that languages meddle in very low-level aspects of perception, and without our knowledge or consent shape the very nuts and bolts of how we see the world.”) Lots of thought-provoking stuff there.
Via MetaFilter, where you will find links to previous Annual Questions.

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