含有〈语言〉标签的文章(41)

的确良

(官话)的确良=(粤语)的确靓=(由品牌名泛化而来的俗称)Decron=(化学名)聚对苯二甲酸乙二酯=(当前纺织业术语)涤纶 ​​​​

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7621
(官话)的确良=(粤语)的确靓=(由品牌名泛化而来的俗称)Decron=(化学名)聚对苯二甲酸乙二酯=(当前纺织业术语)涤纶 ​​​​
文化距离

【2017-09-09】

@tertio 有一个猜想,两个人之间的语言交流,信息密度越大的(用更短的句子就能表达同样的意思),两个人关系就越近。最近的时候,就是不需要语言啦,表情就够了。但怎么测量信息密度倒是个不好解决的问题。 ​​​​

@whigzhou: 文化距离越近,1)共享的背景知识越多,2)共享的索引机制越精妙,1和2皆可缩短某一表达所需句子长度。

 

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【2017-09-09】 @tertio 有一个猜想,两个人之间的语言交流,信息密度越大的(用更短的句子就能表达同样的意思),两个人关系就越近。最近的时候,就是不需要语言啦,表情就够了。但怎么测量信息密度倒是个不好解决的问题。 ​​​​ @whigzhou: 文化距离越近,1)共享的背景知识越多,2)共享的索引机制越精妙,1和2皆可缩短某一表达所需句子长度。  
[译文]『妈妈语』如何帮助婴儿学习语言

It may be baby talk, but ‘parentese’ is an infant’s pathway to learning the language, international study shows
跨国研究表明:“妈妈语”虽然萌萌哒,但却是婴儿学习语言的必经之路

作者:Joel Schwarz @ 1997-7-31
译者:沈沉(@你在何地-sxy)
校对:Drunkplane(@Drunkplane-zny)
来源:UWToday
网址: http://www.washington.edu/news/1997/07/31/it-may-be-baby-talk-but-parentese-is-an-infants-pathway-to-learning-the-language-international-study-shows/

Parentese, the exaggerated, drawn-out form of speech that people use to communicate with babies, apparently is universal and plays a vital role in (more...)

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It may be baby talk, but ‘parentese’ is an infant’s pathway to learning the language, international study shows 跨国研究表明:“妈妈语”虽然萌萌哒,但却是婴儿学习语言的必经之路 作者:Joel Schwarz @ 1997-7-31 译者:沈沉(@你在何地-sxy) 校对:Drunkplane(@Drunkplane-zny) 来源:UWToday 网址: http://www.washington.edu/news/1997/07/31/it-may-be-baby-talk-but-parentese-is-an-infants-pathway-to-learning-the-language-international-study-shows/ Parentese, the exaggerated, drawn-out form of speech that people use to communicate with babies, apparently is universal and plays a vital role in helping infants to analyze and absorb the phonetic elements of their parents’ language. An international study shows that infants are so good at analyzing this speech that by the age of 20 weeks they are beginning to produce the three vowel sounds common to all human languages — “ee,” “ah” and “uu.” 妈妈语,指的是人们在和幼儿交流时使用的那种夸张、拖长的说话方式。它似乎是普天下皆有的现象,而且在帮助婴儿分析和掌握父母语言的语音要素方面发挥着关键作用。一项跨国研究表明,婴儿分析这种说话方式的能力极高,以至于他们在20周那么大时就开始发出所有人类语言都共有的三个元音,即ee,ah和uu。 “Parentese has a melody to it. And inside this melody is a tutorial for the baby that contains exceptionally well-formed versions of the building blocks of language,” explains Patricia Kuhl, a University of Washington neuroscientist. Kuhl recently headed a team of nine researchers from the United States, Russia and Sweden investigating how infants master the complex task of acquiring speech. Their findings are being published in tomorrow’s issue (Aug. 1) of the journal Science. “妈妈语具有内在的韵律。对幼儿的辅导就藏在这一韵律之中,其内容包括了语言基本材料的极为成熟的形式”,华盛顿大学神经系统科学家Patricia Kuhl如此解释道。Kuhl近来带领一个9人团队对婴儿如何得以完成学会说话这种复杂任务进行了研究,研究者分别来自美国、俄罗斯和瑞典。他们的发现将于明天(8月1日)发表于《科学》杂志上。【编注:注意本文发表于1997年。】 The new study examined differences in how American, Russian and Swedish mothers speak to their infants and to other adults. The study shows that parentese is characterized by over- articulation that exaggerates the sounds contained in words. Mothers in the study were, in effect, sounding out “super-vowels” to help their infants learn the phonetic elements of language, says Kuhl, who is the chair of speech and hearing sciences and the William P. and Ruth Gerberding professor at the UW. 这项新研究考察了美国、俄罗斯和瑞典的妈妈们在和她们的婴儿说话时跟她们和其他成人说话时的区别。研究表明,妈妈语的特征是夸张发音,对词语中的音素进行夸张。Kuhl说,实际上,被研究的妈妈们都会发出“超级元音”来帮助她们的孩子学习语言中的语音要素。Kuhl在华盛顿大学担任言语及听觉学院主席,同时还是该校的“盖博丁夫妇”讲席教授。 “In normal, everyday speech adults generally race along at a very fast pace,” Kuhl says. “But we know it is easier to understand a speaker when they stretch out sounds. That’s why we tend to speak more slowly and carefully to increase understanding when we teach in the classroom or talk to strangers. We also do this unconsciously with babies, giving them an improved verbal signal they can capitalize on by slowing down and over articulating.” “在正常的日常交谈中,成年人一般都会以非常快的速度放连珠炮”,Kuhl说。“但我们知道,如果说话者拉长声音,就更容易被人听懂。这就是为什么我们在进行课堂教学或和陌生人说话时会把话说得更慢更仔细,这是为了增进理解。面对幼儿时,我们也会下意识地这么做。通过放慢语速、夸张发音,我们向幼儿提供了一种改良过的语言信号,以便他们利用。” The mothers in the study were not aware of what they were doing, she says, and so parentese was produced unconsciously and automatically. “When women across three different cultures, speaking three different languages, show the same pattern when speaking to their infants, biology is telling us something about it’s necessity and value to their babies. It’s our job to figure out why they do it and what it’s good for,” Kuhl adds. 她还说,被研究的妈妈们对于自己的作为并没有自觉意识,因此妈妈语是无意识、不经意产生的。“来自三种不同文化、使用三种不同语言的妇女在和她们的婴儿交谈时都呈现出同一种模式,这是生物学在向我们透露某些东西,关乎其必要性及其对幼儿的价值。我们的任务就是要搞清她们为什么要这么做以及这么做的好处”,Kuhl补充说。 To explore differences in the way people communicate with infants and adults, 10 women from each of the three countries were first recorded talking for 20 minutes to their infants, ranging in age from two to five months. Then they were recorded in conversation with an adult. 为了查明人们与婴儿及他们与成人交流时的区别,研究者首先对分别来自上述三国的各10位妇女与其婴儿的交谈进行了20分钟的录音,婴儿年龄从2至5个月不等。然后又录制了她们与某一成人的谈话。 In both cases, the mothers were told to talk naturally and were given a small list of target words containing the three common vowel sounds and asked to include them in the conversations.. The selected English words were “bead” for the “ee” sound, “pot” for “ah” and “boot” for “uu.” Similar common words were selected in Russian and Swedish. The three languages were chosen because they represent substantially different vowel systems occurring in human languages: Russian has five vowels, English has nine vowels and Swedish has16. 在两种情形中,妈妈们都被要求进行自然交谈,并拿到了一份简短的目标词汇表,这些词汇都包含有常见的三种元音。妈妈们被要求在对话中使用到这些词汇。被选中的英文单词包括bead(含元音ee),pot(含元音ah)和boot(含元音uu)。俄语和瑞典语中也选的是类似的常见词汇。之所以选这三种语言,是因为它们代表着人类语言中存在本质区别的不同元音体系:俄语有5个元音,英语有9个,而瑞典语有16个。 The more than 2,300 recorded target words spoken by the subjects were then isolated and acoustically analyzed by spectrograph. This analysis showed speech directed at infants had more extreme or stretched out vowel sounds than speech with an adult. This was true among all 30 mothers across the three languages, says Kuhl. 然后,研究者把研究对象说过且被录制的2300多个目标词汇单独提取出来,并用声谱仪对之进行声学分析。分析表明,跟对成人说的话相比,对婴儿说的话中包含有更过分或更为拖长的元音发音。Kuhl说,使用三种语言的30位母亲全都如此。 The use of parentese seems to benefit infants in three ways, she believes. It makes the sounds of vowels more distinct from one another, and it produces expanded vowel sounds not produced in ordinary adult conversations. This exaggerated speech allows mothers to produce a greater variety of vowel pronunciations without overlapping other vowels. Kuhl相信,使用妈妈语似乎会从三种途径有利于婴儿。它能使元音发音彼此之间区分得更为清楚,同时能发出成人们在日常对话中不会发出的拖长元音。这种夸张的说话方式能让妈妈们发出更为多样化的元音读法,且不与其它元音重叠。 To speak, an infant must be able to reproduce the appropriate features of individual phonetic elements using a tiny vocal tract which is about only one-quarter the size and lacks the same frequency range of an adult’s. The exaggeration of parentese helps the infant separate sounds into contrasting categories and helps the baby distinguish between different categories, she believes. 婴儿的小声道在大小上只有成人的大约四分之一,缺乏成人所具备的那种频率范围。为了说话,婴儿必须要用这种声道来再现每个语音要素的恰当特征。Kuhl相信,妈妈语的夸张发音能帮助婴儿将声音分为对比鲜明的类别,并帮助他们区分不同类别。 “What infants are doing with this information is not memorization. Their minds are not working like a tape recorder,” says Kuhl. “Because their mouths and vocal tracts can’t form the same sounds as adults, they have to transform adult sounds to frequencies they can use. So they must be analyzing speech.” “针对这些信息,婴儿们做的并不是熟记。他们的心智并不像是录音机那样运转”,Kuhl说。“因为他们的小嘴和小声道无法发出成人那样的声音,他们必须将成人的发音转化为他们能够使用的频率。因此,他们必定分析发声。” Babies’ brains, like their bodies, need to be nourished, she says, and parentese provides them with “essential nuggets” of information about language that their lightning fast brains analyze and absorb. 她说,幼儿的大脑跟他们的身体一样需要滋养,而妈妈语则为他们提供了语言信息的“基本材料”,以便他们能用其闪电般快速运转的大脑进行分析和吸收。 The use of parentese seems to be universal, she says, and parents don’t have to worry about learning it when they take a newborn home from the hospital. 她说,使用妈妈语似乎是普天下共有的现象,父母们把新生儿从医院抱回家后并不需要担心如何学会妈妈语。 “Moms, dads, caretakers, younger siblings and even college students who were handed a baby in the classroom have been observed speaking parentese. Talking that way seems to be a natural communications mode we all use. That means parents don’t have to work hard at this. Just by talking and communicating with their infants they are playing a vital role without being aware of it,” Kuhl says. “人们已经发现,妈妈、爸爸、保姆、小哥哥小姐姐都会说妈妈语,甚至是在课堂上被塞给了一个小宝宝的大学生也是如此。以这种方式说话似乎是我们所使用的一种自然的交流模式。这就是说,父母们无需在这方面用功。只要和他们的婴儿说话交流,他们就在不自觉的扮演一个关键的角色”,Kuhl说。 Collaborating researchers in the study come from the Early Intervention Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Stockholm University in Sweden. The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. 参与本研究的合作研究者分别来自俄罗斯圣彼得堡的早期介入研究所和瑞典斯德哥尔摩大学。研究得到了美国国立卫生研究院、加拿大社会科学与人文研究委员会及瑞典银行三百年基金会的基金资助。 (编辑:辉格@whigzhou) *注:本译文未经原作者授权,本站对原文不持有也不主张任何权利,如果你恰好对原文拥有权益并希望我们移除相关内容,请私信联系,我们会立即作出响应。

——海德沙龙·翻译组,致力于将英文世界的好文章搬进中文世界——

白垃圾

【2016-07-16】

@方悄悄诺娃 有人问:你这样张口闭口小粉红,你跟小粉红有什么区别?
区别很明显啊……我从没逼人表过态,也没去别人微博底下骂过街……小时候被人踩了一脚,我哭了,我妈妈问我是不是很疼,我说他为什么不跟我说对不起……然后那人听见了就跟我说“对不起”,我就哭着说“没关系”啊……我哪有小粉红万分之一的战斗力,不要谬赞我了。

@sw小橘子: 词的褒贬,是随着词所指对象的属性而变迁的。本来是褒义的词,长期用在卑劣的事物上,就带上了贬义。本来是贬义的词,长期用在价值链上游,就带(more...)

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【2016-07-16】 @方悄悄诺娃 有人问:你这样张口闭口小粉红,你跟小粉红有什么区别? 区别很明显啊……我从没逼人表过态,也没去别人微博底下骂过街……小时候被人踩了一脚,我哭了,我妈妈问我是不是很疼,我说他为什么不跟我说对不起……然后那人听见了就跟我说“对不起”,我就哭着说“没关系”啊……我哪有小粉红万分之一的战斗力,不要谬赞我了。 @sw小橘子: 词的褒贬,是随着词所指对象的属性而变迁的。本来是褒义的词,长期用在卑劣的事物上,就带上了贬义。本来是贬义的词,长期用在价值链上游,就带上了褒义。那么,“小粉红”是如何成为贬义词的呢? @whigzhou: 可不是嘛,whig/tory/yankee最早都是骂人话,只有最自信者才能欣然接受这些贬义绰号 @whigzhou: 英国人在这方面最豁达,美国黑人的称呼已经换了那么多个了,最后都没变成好词,negro在60年代还是中性词,约翰逊政府的官方文件里还这么叫,现在已经变成禁用词了 @whigzhou: 连Iron Lady都是俄国人叫出来的 @whigzhou: 马丁路德金在1963年那篇演讲里还把自己的民族称为Negro @whigzhou: 针对美国白人的蔑称不计其数,craker, okie, redneck, hillbilly,也没见受者满地打滚,很多人反而欣然受之引以为豪,最露骨的词是white trash,80年代很多南方白人作家自称white trash,1986年还出了本《白垃圾烹饪》,热卖  
[译文]语言如何塑造我们的思想?

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
语言是否塑造了你的思维方式?

作者:Guy Deutscher @ 2010-8-26
译者:尼克基得慢(@尼克基得慢)
校对:沈沉(@你在何地-sxy)
来源:NYtimes,http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?_r=0

Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century.At first glance, there seemed little about the article to augur its subsequent celebrity. Neither the title, “Science and Linguistics,” nor the magazine, M.I.T.’s Technology Review, was most people’s idea of glamour.

在七十年前的1940年,一份大众科学杂志发表了一篇短文,开启了二十世纪最新潮的思想风尚之一。乍看这篇文章,很难预料到它之后的名气。无论是文章标题《科学和语言学》,还是刊登的杂志《麻省理工科技评论》,都跟大多数人心目中的魅力不沾边。

And the author, a chemical engineer who worked for an insurance company and moonlighted as an anthropology lecturer at Yale University, was an unlikely candidate for international superstardom. And yet Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think.

而且,身为保险公司的化学工程师,同时兼职担任耶鲁大学人类学讲师,作者的这种身份并没有成为国际超级巨星的潜质。然而Benjamin Lee Whorf提出了一种关于语言对思维影响的诱人观点,而且他激动人心的文章诱使整整一代人相信,我们的母语限制了我们所能思考的内容。

In particular, Whorf announced, Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”) and actions(more...)

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Does Your Language Shape How You Think? 语言是否塑造了你的思维方式? 作者:Guy Deutscher @ 2010-8-26 译者:尼克基得慢(@尼克基得慢) 校对:沈沉(@你在何地-sxy) 来源:NYtimes,http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t.html?_r=0 Seventy years ago, in 1940, a popular science magazine published a short article that set in motion one of the trendiest intellectual fads of the 20th century.At first glance, there seemed little about the article to augur its subsequent celebrity. Neither the title, “Science and Linguistics,” nor the magazine, M.I.T.’s Technology Review, was most people’s idea of glamour. 在七十年前的1940年,一份大众科学杂志发表了一篇短文,开启了二十世纪最新潮的思想风尚之一。乍看这篇文章,很难预料到它之后的名气。无论是文章标题《科学和语言学》,还是刊登的杂志《麻省理工科技评论》,都跟大多数人心目中的魅力不沾边。 And the author, a chemical engineer who worked for an insurance company and moonlighted as an anthropology lecturer at Yale University, was an unlikely candidate for international superstardom. And yet Benjamin Lee Whorf let loose an alluring idea about language’s power over the mind, and his stirring prose seduced a whole generation into believing that our mother tongue restricts what we are able to think. 而且,身为保险公司的化学工程师,同时兼职担任耶鲁大学人类学讲师,作者的这种身份并没有成为国际超级巨星的潜质。然而Benjamin Lee Whorf提出了一种关于语言对思维影响的诱人观点,而且他激动人心的文章诱使整整一代人相信,我们的母语限制了我们所能思考的内容。 In particular, Whorf announced, Native American languages impose on their speakers a picture of reality that is totally different from ours, so their speakers would simply not be able to understand some of our most basic concepts, like the flow of time or the distinction between objects (like “stone”) and actions (like “fall”). 特别是,Whorf宣称,美洲土著语言令它们的使用者形成了与我们完全不同的现实图景,所以美洲土著完全不能理解我们的一些最基本概念,比如时间的流逝,以及物体(比如“石头”)与动作(比如“下落”)的区分。 For decades, Whorf’s theory dazzled both academics and the general public alike. In his shadow, others made a whole range of imaginative claims about the supposed power of language, from the assertion that Native American languages instill in their speakers an intuitive understanding of Einstein’s concept of time as a fourth dimension to the theory that the nature of the Jewish religion was determined by the tense system of ancient Hebrew. 几十年来,学术圈和普罗大众都为Whorf的理论所折服。在他的巨大影响下,其他人基于设想中的语言之威力提出了很多富有想象力的断言,比如断言美洲土著语言赋予了美洲土著对爱因斯坦将时间作为第四维这一观念的直观理解,又如提出犹太教的本质决定于古希伯来语时态系统的理论。 Eventually, Whorf’s theory crash-landed on hard facts and solid common sense, when it transpired that there had never actually been any evidence to support his fantastic claims. The reaction was so severe that for decades, any attempts to explore the influence of the mother tongue on our thoughts were relegated to the loony fringes of disrepute. 最终,当人们发现Whorf的荒诞断言从未有证据支持时,他的理论在坚硬的事实和可靠的常识面前败退了。这一反弹的后果如此严重,以至于数十年里,任何探究母语对于我们思考之影响的尝试都被贬斥为不光彩的疯狂之举。 But 70 years on, it is surely time to put the trauma of Whorf behind us. And in the last few years, new research has revealed that when we learn our mother tongue, we do after all acquire certain habits of thought that shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways. 但是70年过去了,是时候把Whorf造成的不幸放诸脑后了。在过去几年里,新近研究表明,我们在学习母语时确实会养成一些思维习惯,这些习惯会以重要且出乎意料的方式塑造我们的体验。 Whorf, we now know, made many mistakes. The most serious one was to assume that our mother tongue constrains our minds and prevents us from being able to think certain thoughts. The general structure of his arguments was to claim that if a language has no word for a certain concept, then its speakers would not be able to understand this concept. If a language has no future tense, for instance, its speakers would simply not be able to grasp our notion of future time. 我们现在知道Whorf犯了许多错误。最严重的一个就是,他假定我们的母语会限制我们的思维,而且使我们无力思考某些概念。他论证的大体框架就是声称,如果一种语言没有某种概念对应的词汇,该语言的使用者就不能理解这种概念。例如,假设一种语言没有将来时态,它的使用者就无法理解未来时间的概念。 It seems barely comprehensible that this line of argument could ever have achieved such success, given that so much contrary evidence confronts you wherever you look. When you ask, in perfectly normal English, and in the present tense, “Are you coming tomorrow?” do you feel your grip on the notion of futurity slipping away? Do English speakers who have never heard the German word Schadenfreude find it difficult to understand the concept of relishing someone else’s misfortune? Or think about it this way: If the inventory of ready-made words in your language determined which concepts you were able to understand, how would you ever learn anything new? 我们很难理解为什么这一论点竟能获得如此巨大的成功,因为你随处可见大量相反的证据。当你用完全标准的英语以现在时态问出“Are you coming tomorrow?”这句话时,难道你就感觉到对未来这一概念的理解随之消逝了吗?难道从未听说过德语单词Schadenfreude的英语使用者就很难理解幸灾乐祸这一概念吗?或者这样思考一下:如果你的母语中现存的全部词汇决定了你可以理解哪些概念,那你又如何可能学到任何新东西呢? SINCE THERE IS NO EVIDENCE that any language forbids its speakers to think anything, we must look in an entirely different direction to discover how our mother tongue really does shape our experience of the world. Some 50 years ago, the renowned linguist Roman Jakobson pointed out a crucial fact about differences between languages in a pithy maxim: “Languages differ essentially in what they must convey and not in what they may convey.” This maxim offers us the key to unlocking the real force of the mother tongue: if different languages influence our minds in different ways, this is not because of what our language allows us to think but rather because of what it habitually obliges us to think about. 既然并无证据表明任何一种语言会令其使用者无法思考某些事情,我们必须从反方向来探究我们的母语如何确实塑造了我们对世界的感受。大概五十年前,著名语言学家Roman Jakobson 用一句精辟箴言指出了关于不同语言之差异的一个关键事实:“语言实质上区别于它们所必须表达的内容,而不是它们可能表达的内容。”这句箴言给我们提供了解开母语真实威力的钥匙:如果不同的语言会以不同的方式影响我们的思维,这不会是由于语言允许我们思考什么内容,而会是由于语言内在地强制我们思考什么内容。 Consider this example. Suppose I say to you in English that “I spent yesterday evening with a neighbor.” You may well wonder whether my companion was male or female, but I have the right to tell you politely that it’s none of your business. But if we were speaking French or German, I wouldn’t have the privilege to equivocate in this way, because I would be obliged by the grammar of language to choose between voisin or voisineNachbar or Nachbarin. 考虑这样一个例子。假设我用英语对你说“我昨天晚上跟我的邻居一起”。你或许会想知道我的同伴是男还是女,但是我有权礼貌地告诉你这事与你无关。但是如果我们讲法语或者德语,我就没有这样含糊其辞的特权了,因为语法强制我必须从voisin与voisine或者Nachbar与Nachbarin中选择一个。 These languages compel me to inform you about the sex of my companion whether or not I feel it is remotely your concern. This does not mean, of course, that English speakers are unable to understand the differences between evenings spent with male or female neighbors, but it does mean that they do not have to consider the sexes of neighbors, friends, teachers and a host of other persons each time they come up in a conversation, whereas speakers of some languages are obliged to do so. 这些语言强迫我将同伴的性别告知你,不管我是否认为你与此事有什么干系。当然,这并不意味着英语使用者就无法理解与男邻居共度的夜晚和与女邻居共度的夜晚之间的区别,但这确实意味着他们并不需要思考在对话中出现的邻居、朋友、老师和其他许多人的性别,然而某些语言的使用者却必须这么做。 On the other hand, English does oblige you to specify certain types of information that can be left to the context in other languages. If I want to tell you in English about a dinner with my neighbor, I may not have to mention the neighbor’s sex, but I do have to tell you something about the timing of the event: I have to decide whether we dinedhave been diningare diningwill be dining and so on. 另一方面,英语也会强制你明确说明某些类型的信息,而这些信息在其他语言里可以留在语境里面。如果我想用英文给你讲我跟邻居的一顿晚餐,我可能不用必须提到我邻居的性别,但是我却必须告知你有关事件发生时间的一些东西:我必须选择我们是已经吃过晚饭了(we dined)、已经在吃着晚饭(have been dining)、正在吃着晚饭(are dining)还是将要吃晚饭(will be dining)等。 Chinese, on the other hand, does not oblige its speakers to specify the exact time of the action in this way, because the same verb form can be used for past, present or future actions. Again, this does not mean that the Chinese are unable to understand the concept of time. But it does mean they are not obliged to think about timing whenever they describe an action. 与此不同,汉语则并不强制其使用者这样详细说明动作的具体时间,因为汉语中同样的动词可以用于指称过去的、现在的和将来的动作。同样地,这并不意味这中国人就无法理解时间的概念。但是这确实意味着,无论何时描述一个动作,他们都不会被强制去考虑时间的问题。 When your language routinely obliges you to specify certain types of information, it forces you to be attentive to certain details in the world and to certain aspects of experience that speakers of other languages may not be required to think about all the time. And since such habits of speech are cultivated from the earliest age, it is only natural that they can settle into habits of mind that go beyond language itself, affecting your experiences, perceptions, associations, feelings, memories and orientation in the world. 当你所用的语言经常强制你去说明特定种类的信息时,它会迫使你关注世界中的某些特定细节和经历中的某些特定方面,而这可能是其他语言的使用者不必一直思考的。因为这些说话的习惯从很小就开始养成,他们很自然就会变成超越语言本身的思维习惯,影响你在世上的体验、知觉、联想、感觉、记忆和倾向。 BUT IS THERE any evidence for this happening in practice? 但是有证据表明上述影响在现实中发生过吗? Let’s take genders again. Languages like Spanish, French, German and Russian not only oblige you to think about the sex of friends and neighbors, but they also assign a male or female gender to a whole range of inanimate objects quite at whim. What, for instance, is particularly feminine about a Frenchman’s beard (la barbe)? Why is Russian water a she, and why does she become a he once you have dipped a tea bag into her? 我们再以性别为例。像西班牙语、法语、德语和俄语这样的语言不仅强制你思考朋友和邻居的性别,而且还心血来潮地赋予各种无生命的物体以性别。例如,法国人胡须怎么就成了阴性的?为何俄语中水是阴性的,但是把一个茶包放进她里面,她为何又会变成了他呢? Mark Twain famously lamented such erratic genders as female turnips and neuter maidens in his rant “The Awful German Language.” But whereas he claimed that there was something particularly perverse about the German gender system, it is in fact English that is unusual, at least among European languages, in not treating turnips and tea cups as masculine or feminine. 众所周知,Mark Twain曾用“糟糕透顶的德语”一语来痛斥其稀奇古怪的词性,比如阴性的萝卜和中性的少女。尽管他声称德语的词性系统有些特别不合常理之处,但事实上,至少在欧洲各语言里,像英语这样不把萝卜和茶杯看作阴性或者阳性的,才真正是不同寻常。 Languages that treat an inanimate object as a he or a she force their speakers to talk about such an object as if it were a man or a woman. And as anyone whose mother tongue has a gender system will tell you, once the habit has taken hold, it is all but impossible to shake off. When I speak English, I may say about a bed that “it” is too soft, but as a native Hebrew speaker, I actually feel “she” is too soft. “She” stays feminine all the way from the lungs up to the glottis and is neutered only when she reaches the tip of the tongue. 那些把无生命物体当作他或她对待的语言,会迫使其使用者以它是一个男人或女人的方式来谈论该物体。而且,母语有性别系统的人会告诉你,一旦养成这种习惯,就不可能改掉了。当我说英语时,我可能会说一张床“它”太软了,但作为一个生来就讲希伯来语之人,我实际上是感觉到“她”太软了。从肺部上至声门,“她”一直都是阴性的,只有当她到达舌尖时才会变成中性。【编注:作者是犹太人,生于以色列特拉维夫市,在荷兰莱顿大学任教授】 In recent years, various experiments have shown that grammatical genders can shape the feelings and associations of speakers toward objects around them. In the 1990s, for example, psychologists compared associations between speakers of German and Spanish. There are many inanimate nouns whose genders in the two languages are reversed. A German bridge is feminine (die Brücke), for instance, but el puente is masculine in Spanish; and the same goes for clocks, apartments, forks, newspapers, pockets, shoulders, stamps, tickets, violins, the sun, the world and love. 近几年,不同实验均表明,语法上的性别可以塑造说话人对周围物体的感觉和联想。比如1990年代,心理学家比较了德语使用者和西班牙语使用者的联想。两种语言中有很多无生命名词的性别是相反的。比如德语中的桥是阴性的(die Brücke),但是在西班牙语中桥(el puente)是阳性的。同样,时钟、公寓、叉子、报纸、口袋、肩膀、邮票、票、小提琴、太阳、世界和爱都是如此。 On the other hand, an apple is masculine for Germans but feminine in Spanish, and so are chairs, brooms, butterflies, keys, mountains, stars, tables, wars, rain and garbage. When speakers were asked to grade various objects on a range of characteristics, Spanish speakers deemed bridges, clocks and violins to have more “manly properties” like strength, but Germans tended to think of them as more slender or elegant. With objects like mountains or chairs, which are “he” in German but “she” in Spanish, the effect was reversed. 另一方面,对德国人来说,苹果是阳性的,但是在西班牙语中则是阴性的,椅子、扫帚、蝴蝶、钥匙、山岳、星星、桌子、战争、雨和垃圾也是如此。当说话者被要求对不同物体的一系列特征进行评分时,说西班牙语的人认为桥梁、时钟和小提琴拥有更多“男性特质”,比如力量;但是德国人则倾向于认为它们更加纤弱或雅致。对于像山岳或椅子这样德语中为阳性而在西班牙语为阴性的物品来说,效果正好相反。 In a different experiment, French and Spanish speakers were asked to assign human voices to various objects in a cartoon. When French speakers saw a picture of a fork (la fourchette), most of them wanted it to speak in a woman’s voice, but Spanish speakers, for whom el tenedor is masculine, preferred a gravelly male voice for it. More recently, psychologists have even shown that “gendered languages” imprint gender traits for objects so strongly in the mind that these associations obstruct speakers’ ability to commit information to memory. 在另一个实验中,说法语和西班牙语的人被要求为卡通中的不同物体配上人类发音。说法语的人看到一幅叉子(la fourchette)的图片时,大多数就想要为它配上女性声音,但在西班牙语中,叉子(el tenedor)是阳性的,其使用者就会更倾向于给它一个沙哑的男性声音。心理学家最近甚至揭示,“名词具有词性的语言”会将物体的性别特性在思维上留下极为深刻的印记,以致于这种联想甚至会阻碍语言使用者记忆信息的能力。 Of course, all this does not mean that speakers of Spanish or French or German fail to understand that inanimate objects do not really have biological sex — a German woman rarely mistakes her husband for a hat, and Spanish men are not known to confuse a bed with what might be lying in it. Nonetheless, once gender connotations have been imposed on impressionable young minds, they lead those with a gendered mother tongue to see the inanimate world through lenses tinted with associations and emotional responses that English speakers — stuck in their monochrome desert of “its” — are entirely oblivious to. 当然,所有这些并不意味着说西班牙语、法语或者德语的人不能理解无生命物体并没有真正的生物性别——一个德国女性很少会把她的丈夫错认为一顶帽子,西班牙男性也并不以混淆床和床上的东西而著称。然而,一旦性别涵义强加于易受影响的年轻头脑上,它们就会使得母语中名词具有词性的人通过联想和感性回应的滤镜来看待这无生命的世界,而这是困在单色的“its”沙漠中的英语使用者完全察觉不到的。 Did the opposite genders of “bridge” in German and Spanish, for example, have an effect on the design of bridges in Spain and Germany? Do the emotional maps imposed by a gender system have higher-level behavioral consequences for our everyday life? Do they shape tastes, fashions, habits and preferences in the societies concerned? At the current state of our knowledge about the brain, this is not something that can be easily measured in a psychology lab. But it would be surprising if they didn’t. 例如,“桥梁”在德语和西班牙语中相反的性别会对两国桥梁的设计有影响吗?词性系统所设置的情感地图对我们的日常生活会产生更高级别的行为后果吗?它们会影响相关社会的品味、时尚、习惯和倾向吗?在我们有关大脑的现有知识状态下,这并不是能在心理学实验室轻松测量出来的事情。但是如果它们没有影响,这会叫人意外。 The area where the most striking evidence for the influence of language on thought has come to light is the language of space — how we describe the orientation of the world around us. Suppose you want to give someone directions for getting to your house. You might say: “After the traffic lights, take the first left, then the second right, and then you’ll see a white house in front of you. Our door is on the right.” But in theory, you could also say: “After the traffic lights, drive north, and then on the second crossing drive east, and you’ll see a white house directly to the east. Ours is the southern door.” 我们在某个领域已经发现了有关语言影响思想的最引人注目的证据。这一领域就是有关空间的语言——我们如何描述我们周围世界的方向。假设你想给要去你家的某人指路。你可能会说:“过了红绿灯后,第一个路口左转,然后第二个路口右转,然后你会看到面前有一栋白房子。我家门在右边。”但是理论上,你也可以说:“过了红绿灯后,向北开,然后在第二个十字路口往东开,然后你会看到正东方向有栋白房子。我家门是南边那个。” These two sets of directions may describe the same route, but they rely on different systems of coordinates. The first uses egocentric coordinates, which depend on our own bodies: a left-right axis and a front-back axis orthogonal to it. The second system uses fixed geographic directions, which do not rotate with us wherever we turn. 这两组指令描述的是同一路线,但是它们依赖不同的坐标系统。第一种使用了依赖自己身体的自我中心坐标:左右坐标轴和与之垂直的前后坐标轴。第二种系统使用固定的地理方向,不论我们转向何处都不会随我们旋转。 We find it useful to use geographic directions when hiking in the open countryside, for example, but the egocentric coordinates completely dominate our speech when we describe small-scale spaces. We don’t say: “When you get out of the elevator, walk south, and then take the second door to the east.” The reason the egocentric system is so dominant in our language is that it feels so much easier and more natural. After all, we always know where “behind” or “in front of” us is. We don’t need a map or a compass to work it out, we just feel it, because the egocentric coordinates are based directly on our own bodies and our immediate visual fields. 我们发现有时使用地理方向很有用,比如当我们在开阔的野外徒步时。但是当我们描述小型空间时,自我中心坐标在我们的言谈中占绝大多数。我们并不会这么说:“出电梯后,往南走,然后在第二个门往东走。”自我中心坐标在我们的语言中如此重要,原因是我们觉得用起来更容易、更自然。毕竟,我们总是会知道我们的“后面”或者“前面”在哪。我们不需要地图或者指南针来辨别前后,我们只需靠感觉,因为自我中心坐标直接基于我们的身体和当下的视野。 But then a remote Australian aboriginal tongue, Guugu Yimithirr, from north Queensland, turned up, and with it came the astounding realization that not all languages conform to what we have always taken as simply “natural.” In fact, Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t make any use of egocentric coordinates at all. The anthropologist John Haviland and later the linguist Stephen Levinson have shown that Guugu Yimithirr does not use words like “left” or “right,” “in front of” or “behind,” to describe the position of objects. Whenever we would use the egocentric system, the Guugu Yimithirr rely on cardinal directions. 可是且慢,一种生僻的澳洲土著语言——北昆士兰的Guugu Yimithirr语——冒了出来,它让人们震惊地意识到,并不是所有语言都符合我们理所当然认定的“自然”。事实上,Guugu Yimithir语根本不使用自我中心坐标。先是人类学家John Haviland,后来又有语言学家Stephen Levinson,都表示Guugu Yimithirr语并不使用诸如“左”或“右”、“前”或“后”这些词来描述物体的方位。在任何我们使用自我中心坐标的场合,Guugu Yimithirr语都依赖于东西南北这种基本方向。 If they want you to move over on the car seat to make room, they’ll say “move a bit to the east.” To tell you where exactly they left something in your house, they’ll say, “I left it on the southern edge of the western table.” Or they would warn you to “look out for that big ant just north of your foot.” Even when shown a film on television, they gave descriptions of it based on the orientation of the screen. If the television was facing north, and a man on the screen was approaching, they said that he was “coming northward.” 如果他们想让你在车座上挪出点空位来,他们会说“往东移一点。”为了告诉你他们忘在你家的东西的具体位置,他们会说,“我把它落在西边桌子的南边了。”他们还会警告你,“小心你脚北边的大蚂蚁。”甚至当电视上播放电影时,他们也会基于屏幕的朝向来描述电影。如果电视机朝北,屏幕上的男人正在靠近,他们会说他“正在往北走”。 When these peculiarities of Guugu Yimithirr were uncovered, they inspired a large-scale research project into the language of space. And as it happens, Guugu Yimithirr is not a freak occurrence; languages that rely primarily on geographical coordinates are scattered around the world, from Polynesia to Mexico, from Namibia to Bali. Guugu Yimithirr语的这些怪异特性的发现,激发了对于空间语言的一项大规模研究项目。经过研究发现,Guugu Yimithirr语并不是不寻常的事情;主要依靠地理坐标的语言散落在世界各地,从波利尼西亚到墨西哥,从纳米比亚到巴厘岛。 For us, it might seem the height of absurdity for a dance teacher to say, “Now raise your north hand and move your south leg eastward.”But the joke would be lost on some: the Canadian-American musicologist Colin McPhee, who spent several years on Bali in the 1930s, recalls a young boy who showed great talent for dancing. As there was no instructor in the child’s village, McPhee arranged for him to stay with a teacher in a different village. 对于我们来说,如果一位舞蹈老师说“现在举起你北边的手,向东移动你的南腿”,可能听起来十分荒谬。但是某些情况下就不好笑了:曾于1930年代在巴厘岛生活过几年的美籍加拿大音乐学家Colin McPhee回忆说,他在那儿遇到过一个有着极佳舞蹈天赋的男孩。由于男孩的村子没有老师,McPhee就安排他跟着另一个村子的老师。 But when he came to check on the boy’s progress after a few days, he found the boy dejected and the teacher exasperated. It was impossible to teach the boy anything, because he simply did not understand any of the instructions. When told to take “three steps east” or “bend southwest,” he didn’t know what to do. The boy would not have had the least trouble with these directions in his own village, but because the landscape in the new village was entirely unfamiliar, he became disoriented and confused. Why didn’t the teacher use different instructions? He would probably have replied that saying “take three steps forward” or “bend backward” would be the height of absurdity. 但是几天后当他检查男孩的进展时,他发现男孩情绪低落而且老师充满怒气。因为男孩根本不能理解任何指令,所以没法教他任何事情。当被告知“向东三步”或者“往西南弯曲”时,他不知道该怎么做。男孩在他自己的村子就不会有这些方向上的麻烦,但是因为新村子的地貌完全不熟悉,他变得困惑,分不清方向。为什么老师不用不同的指令呢?他的回答大概是:说“往前三步”或者“向后弯曲”是极度荒谬的。 So different languages certainly make us speak about space in very different ways. But does this necessarily mean that we have to think about space differently? By now red lights should be flashing, because even if a language doesn’t have a word for “behind,” this doesn’t necessarily mean that its speakers wouldn’t be able to understand this concept. Instead, we should look for the possible consequences of what geographic languages oblige their speakers to convey. In particular, we should be on the lookout for what habits of mind might develop because of the necessity of specifying geographic directions all the time. 所以不同语言确实让我们对于空间的描述十分不同。但是这一定表明我们必须对空间有不同的思考吗?到此红灯应该闪起来了,因为即使一种语言没有“后面”这一个词,这不一定意味着说这种语言的人不能理解这个概念。相反,我们应该寻找地理语言强制它们的使用者传达某些内容所带来的后果。特别是我们应该留神观察,由于他们一直需要明确地理位置,他们的思维会形成什么样的习惯。 In order to speak a language like Guugu Yimithirr, you need to know where the cardinal directions are at each and every moment of your waking life. You need to have a compass in your mind that operates all the time, day and night, without lunch breaks or weekends off, since otherwise you would not be able to impart the most basic information or understand what people around you are saying. Indeed, speakers of geographic languages seem to have an almost-superhuman sense of orientation. Regardless of visibility conditions, regardless of whether they are in thick forest or on an open plain, whether outside or indoors or even in caves, whether stationary or moving, they have a spot-on sense of direction. 为了讲一种像Guugu Yimithirr这样的语言,你需要在你醒着的每一刻都知道基本方向在哪。你的脑中需要有一个一直运行的指南针,无论白天还是晚上,没有午休或者周末休息,否则你就无法表述最基本的信息,也无法理解周围人在说什么。确实,地理语言的使用者好像拥有近乎超人般的方向感。不管视线条件如何,不管他们在茂密的森林或是开阔的平原,不管在户外或是室内乃至洞穴中,不管静止还是移动,他们都有准确的方向感。 They don’t look at the sun and pause for a moment of calculation before they say, “There’s an ant just north of your foot.” They simply feel where north, south, west and east are, just as people with perfect pitch feel what each note is without having to calculate intervals. 他们不看太阳,也无需停下片刻计算一番,就能脱口而出“你脚的北边有一只蚂蚁。”他们凭感觉就能知道哪是北方、南方、西方和东方,就像有完美音调的人不用计算音程就能感觉出每个音调是什么。 There is a wealth of stories about what to us may seem like incredible feats of orientation but for speakers of geographic languages are just a matter of course. One report relates how a speaker of Tzeltal from southern Mexico was blindfolded and spun around more than 20 times in a darkened house. Still blindfolded and dizzy, he pointed without hesitation at the geographic directions. 在我们看来似乎不可思议的定位奇迹,对于使用地理语言的人来说是理所当然的事,关于此有太多故事可讲。一份报告描述了南墨西哥说Tzeltal语的人被蒙住眼睛在漆黑的屋子里转二十多圈的故事。转完后,虽然仍旧被蒙住双眼而且头昏,他还是毫不犹豫地指出了地理方向。 How does this work? The convention of communicating with geographic coordinates compels speakers from the youngest age to pay attention to the clues from the physical environment (the position of the sun, wind and so on) every second of their lives, and to develop an accurate memory of their own changing orientations at any given moment. So everyday communication in a geographic language provides the most intense imaginable drilling in geographic orientation (it has been estimated that as much as 1 word in 10 in a normal Guugu Yimithirr conversation is “north,” “south,” “west” or “east,” often accompanied by precise hand gestures). 这是怎么实现的呢?用地理坐标进行交流的习惯,使得说话者从很小开始就在生命中每一秒都去留意有关物理环境的线索(太阳的位置,风等等),培养出了在任何时刻都能记住自己方位变化的精确记忆力。所以在地理语言中,日常交流提供了对地理方位最大强度的想象训练(据估计,一次普通的Guugu Yimithirr语谈话中,每十个词就有一个是“北”“南”“西”或“东”,而且经常伴有准确的手部姿势)。 This habit of constant awareness to the geographic direction is inculcated almost from infancy: studies have shown that children in such societies start using geographic directions as early as age 2 and fully master the system by 7 or 8. With such an early and intense drilling, the habit soon becomes second nature, effortless and unconscious. When Guugu Yimithirr speakers were asked how they knew where north is, they couldn’t explain it any more than you can explain how you know where “behind” is. 这种恒常知晓地理方向的习惯从婴儿时期就开始得到灌输。研究表明,这种社会中的儿童最早在2岁就开始使用地理方向了,到了7、8岁就能完全掌握。有了这样早且高强度的训练,这种习惯很快就变成了毫不费力且不会察觉的第二本能。当Guugu Yimithirr语的使用者被问到他们如何知道哪是北方时,他们无法解释,就像你不能解释你怎么知道“后方”是哪一样。 But there is more to the effects of a geographic language, for the sense of orientation has to extend further in time than the immediate present. If you speak a Guugu Yimithirr-style language, your memories of anything that you might ever want to report will have to be stored with cardinal directions as part of the picture. One Guugu Yimithirr speaker was filmed telling his friends the story of how in his youth, he capsized in shark-infested waters. 但是地理语言的影响还不仅如此,因为方向感要求在当下时间的基础上有所延伸。如果你讲的是Guugu Yimithirr类型的语言,你对于自己想要说的任何东西的记忆都会将基本方向作为记忆画面的一部分来存储。一位讲Guugu Yimithirr的人曾被拍摄到向他的朋友讲述自己年轻时如何在遍布鲨鱼的水域里翻船的故事。 He and an older person were caught in a storm, and their boat tipped over. They both jumped into the water and managed to swim nearly three miles to the shore, only to discover that the missionary for whom they worked was far more concerned at the loss of the boat than relieved at their miraculous escape. Apart from the dramatic content, the remarkable thing about the story was that it was remembered throughout in cardinal directions: the speaker jumped into the water on the western side of the boat, his companion to the east of the boat, they saw a giant shark swimming north and so on. 他和一个年纪稍大的人被困在风暴中,他们的船翻了过来。他们都跳入水中,奋力游了3英里才到了海岸,却发现雇佣他们的传教士只关心船只损失,毫不庆幸他们奇迹般的死里逃生。除了这戏剧性的内容之外,值得注意的事情是整个故事都是通过基本方向来记忆的:说话者从船的西侧跳入水中,他的同伴在船的东侧跳下,他们看见了一条大鲨鱼从北面游来等等。 Perhaps the cardinal directions were just made up for the occasion? Well, quite by chance, the same person was filmed some years later telling the same story. The cardinal directions matched exactly in the two tellings. Even more remarkable were the spontaneous hand gestures that accompanied the story. For instance, the direction in which the boat rolled over was gestured in the correct geographic orientation, regardless of the direction the speaker was facing in the two films. 有没有可能,其中提到的基本方向只是临时想到的呢?很巧合的是,同一个人几年过后又被拍摄讲同样的故事。两次描述中的基本方向完全相符。更加引人注意的是伴随故事而出现的自发手势。例如,在讲述船往哪个方向摇晃时,他的手能够指向正确的地理方向,不管说话者在两段视频中面向哪个方向。 Psychological experiments have also shown that under certain circumstances, speakers of Guugu Yimithirr-style languages even remember “the same reality” differently from us. There has been heated debate about the interpretation of some of these experiments, but one conclusion that seems compelling is that while we are trained to ignore directional rotations when we commit information to memory, speakers of geographic languages are trained not to do so. 心理学实验也表明,在某些情况下,对于“同一个事实”,说Guugu Yimithirr型语言的人甚至会与我们有不同的记忆。关于如何解释部分此类实验,人们一直都有一些热烈的争议,但是有一个结论非常令人信服:尽管我们受到的思维训练是在记忆信息时忽略方向变化,但是说地理语言的人却被训练得不去这么做。 One way of understanding this is to imagine that you are traveling with a speaker of such a language and staying in a large chain-style hotel, with corridor upon corridor of identical-looking doors.Your friend is staying in the room opposite yours, and when you go into his room, you’ll see an exact replica of yours: the same bathroom door on the left, the same mirrored wardrobe on the right, the same main room with the same bed on the left, the same curtains drawn behind it, the same desk next to the wall on the right, the same television set on the left corner of the desk and the same telephone on the right. In short, you have seen the same room twice. 理解这种区别的一个方法是:想象你正与一个说这种语言的人一同旅行,住在一家各层走廊两边的门都一模一样的大型连锁酒店。你的朋友住在正对着你的房间,当你走进他的房间里时,你会看见跟你完全一样的房间:卫生间门一样在左侧,带镜衣柜一样在右侧,一样的主卧,床也一样在主卧的左边,后面一样是窗帘,靠右侧墙也一样摆着桌子,桌子的左边一样是电视,电话一样在右边。简言之,你两次看到的是相同的房间。 But when your friend comes into your room, he will see something quite different from this, because everything is reversed north-side-south. In his room the bed was in the north, while in yours it is in the south; the telephone that in his room was in the west is now in the east, and so on. So while you will see and remember the same room twice, a speaker of a geographic language will see and remember two different rooms. 但是当你的朋友进到你的房间时,他会看见相当不同的东西,因为所有事情都是南北颠倒的。在他的房间床是在北边,而在你的房间床是在南边;他房间里的电话是在西边,而你的在东边等等。所以尽管你两次看到并记住相同的房间,地理语言的使用者则看见和记住了两间不同的房间。 It is not easy for us to conceive how Guugu Yimithirr speakers experience the world, with a crisscrossing of cardinal directions imposed on any mental picture and any piece of graphic memory. Nor is it easy to speculate about how geographic languages affect areas of experience other than spatial orientation — whether they influence the speaker’s sense of identity, for instance, or bring about a less-egocentric outlook on life. 说Guugu Yimithirr的人把基本方向的十字瞄准器加诸于任何精神画面和图像记忆之上,我们很难想像他们是如何感受这个世界的。同时也很难猜测地理语言如何影响除了空间定向外的体验领域——比如它们是否会影响说话者对个体身份的理解或者是否会导致对于人生更少自我中心的看法。 But one piece of evidence is telling: if you saw a Guugu Yimithirr speaker pointing at himself, you would naturally assume he meant to draw attention to himself. In fact, he is pointing at a cardinal direction that happens to be behind his back. While we are always at the center of the world, and it would never occur to us that pointing in the direction of our chest could mean anything other than to draw attention to ourselves, a Guugu Yimithirr speaker points through himself, as if he were thin air and his own existence were irrelevant. 但是有个证据颇能说明问题:如果你看到一个说Guugu Yimithirr语的人指向他自己,你会自然地假设他有意引起对他自己的注意。事实上,他正在指向一个方向,刚好在他背后。尽管我们总是处于世界的中心,而且从来不会意识到,指向我们胸部方向的动作除了是想要引起对自己的注意之外,还能有什么别的意思,但是一个说Guugu Yimithirr语的人会指穿他自己,仿佛他是稀薄的空气,他自己的存在并不相关。 IN WHAT OTHER WAYS might the language we speak influence our experience of the world? Recently, it has been demonstrated in a series of ingenious experiments that we even perceive colors through the lens of our mother tongue. There are radical variations in the way languages carve up the spectrum of visible light; for example, green and blue are distinct colors in English but are considered shades of the same color in many languages. 我们所说的语言会在其他什么方面影响我们对世界的感受呢?最近,一系列别出心裁的实验表明,我们甚至是通过母语的滤镜来观察颜色的。在区分可见光光谱方面,各语言有很大的不同;例如,英语中绿色和蓝色是不同的颜色,但是在很多语言中它们却是同种颜色的不同色调。 And it turns out that the colors that our language routinely obliges us to treat as distinct can refine our purely visual sensitivity to certain color differences in reality, so that our brains are trained to exaggerate the distance between shades of color if these have different names in our language. As strange as it may sound, our experience of a Chagall painting actually depends to some extent on whether our language has a word for blue. 我们还发现,我们的语言所经常性地强制我们加以区分的颜色,会修正我们对于现实中特定颜色区别的视觉敏感性,所以如果这些颜色在我们的语言中有不同的名字,我们的大脑就会被训练得夸大不同色度颜色的差距。虽然这听起来很奇怪,但是我们对于Chagall画作的感受某种程度其实依赖于我们语言中是否有蓝色这一单词。 In coming years, researchers may also be able to shed light on the impact of language on more subtle areas of perception. For instance, some languages, like Matses in Peru, oblige their speakers, like the finickiest of lawyers, to specify exactly how they came to know about the facts they are reporting. You cannot simply say, as in English, “An animal passed here.” You have to specify, using a different verbal form, whether this was directly experienced (you saw the animal passing), inferred (you saw footprints), conjectured (animals generally pass there that time of day), hearsay or such. 在未来几年,研究人员或许能发现语言对更细微的感知领域的影响。例如,一些语言,像秘鲁的Matses,会像最挑剔的律师一样强制其使用者详细说明他们如何知晓正在讲述的事实。你不能像在英语中那样简单地说,“一动物经过了此处。”你必须用不同动词形式详细说明,这是直接经历的(你看到了一动物正在经过)、还是你推断的(你看到了脚印)、还是你猜测的(动物一般都会在一天中的那个时间经过那里),还是你听说的,诸如此类。 If a statement is reported with the incorrect “evidentiality,” it is considered a lie. So if, for instance, you ask a Matses man how many wives he has, unless he can actually see his wives at that very moment, he would have to answer in the past tense and would say something like “There were two last time I checked.” After all, given that the wives are not present, he cannot be absolutely certain that one of them hasn’t died or run off with another man since he last saw them, even if this was only five minutes ago. 如果提出一份陈述时的“证据性质”不正确,该陈述就会被认为是谎言。所以,举例来说,如果你问一个Matses男性他有多少老婆,除非他在那时能看到他妻子,否则他必须用过去时回答,会说一些“上次核实时,我有两个老婆”这样的话。毕竟,鉴于他的老婆并不在场,他不能绝对确定自从他上次看到她们后,他们中的一个有无死亡或者跟其他男人跑掉,即使“上次核实”也就在5分钟之前。 So he cannot report it as a certain fact in the present tense. Does the need to think constantly about epistemology in such a careful and sophisticated manner inform the speakers’ outlook on life or their sense of truth and causation? When our experimental tools are less blunt, such questions will be amenable to empirical study. 所以他不能用现在时把这作为一个确定事实来说。这种如此小心复杂地思考认识论的需要,会影响说话者对人生的看法或者他们对真相和起因的理解吗?只有在我们的实验工具足够锐利时,这些问题才能经受实证研究的检验。 For many years, our mother tongue was claimed to be a “prison house” that constrained our capacity to reason. Once it turned out that there was no evidence for such claims, this was taken as proof that people of all cultures think in fundamentally the same way. But surely it is a mistake to overestimate the importance of abstract reasoning in our lives. After all, how many daily decisions do we make on the basis of deductive logic compared with those guided by gut feeling, intuition, emotions, impulse or practical skills? 很多年来,我们的母语被称为限制我们理性能力的“牢笼”。一旦证明这样的说法没有证据,人们就以为这证明了所有文化的人根本上都以相同的方式进行思考。但是,过分高估抽象推理在我们生命中的重要性,这显然是个错误。毕竟,与那些在感觉、直觉、情感、冲动或实用技能指导下做出的日常决定相比,我们有多少决定是在演绎逻辑的基础上做出的呢? The habits of mind that our culture has instilled in us from infancy shape our orientation to the world and our emotional responses to the objects we encounter, and their consequences probably go far beyond what has been experimentally demonstrated so far; they may also have a marked impact on our beliefs, values and ideologies. We may not know as yet how to measure these consequences directly or how to assess their contribution to cultural or political misunderstandings. But as a first step toward understanding one another, we can do better than pretending we all think the same. 我们的文化从婴儿时期就灌输进我们大脑的习惯,会影响我们在世界中的定向,和对我们所遇到的东西的情感回应,它们的影响可能比目前实验所揭示的要更深远;它们可能对我们的信仰、价值观和思想体系也有显著影响。我们可能还不知道如何直接测量这些影响,或者如何评估它们对于文化或政治误解的作用。但是作为迈向理解彼此的第一步,我们还可以做的更好,不能假装所有人都以相同方式思考。 Guy Deutscher is an honorary research fellow at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester. His new book, from which this article is adapted, is “Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages,” to be published this month by Metropolitan Books. Guy Deutscher是曼彻斯特大学语言与文化学院的荣誉研究员。他的新书《透过语言之镜:为何其他语言中的世界看起来如此不同》这个月将由Metropolitan Books出版,本文即选摘自此书。 (编辑:辉格@whigzhou) *注:本译文未经原作者授权,本站对原文不持有也不主张任何权利,如果你恰好对原文拥有权益并希望我们移除相关内容,请私信联系,我们会立即作出响应。

——海德沙龙·翻译组,致力于将英文世界的好文章搬进中文世界——

沐猿而冠·第8章·文化·导言

生物学家道金斯为我们提供了看待文化的两种视角,从个体角度看,文化就像数量庞大的一组延伸表现型[1],人类创造的服饰器具就像蚕茧和蛛网,建造的宫殿城堡就像蚁穴和蜂窝,农耕在地表留下的印迹就像河狸筑坝对河流的改造,驯养给动植物带来的改变,就像昆虫在宿主植物表面造成的瘿瘤,或者寄生虫对蚂蚁行为的操纵。

蜘蛛织网用来抓虫子,人类的各种创造物同样也是追求自身目标的手段,其成效同样影响我们生存繁衍的前景,因而同样接受自然选择的考验;不同的是,指导蜘蛛织网行为的指令,是以基因的形式编码在遗传物质中,而指导人类创造活动的指令,则多半以观念的形式编码在我们头脑中,因而可以在个体生命期中获得和改变。

指导人类活动的观念,有些是从个人的观察和试探过程中获得的,正确有效的(more...)

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生物学家道金斯为我们提供了看待文化的两种视角,从个体角度看,文化就像数量庞大的一组延伸表现型[1],人类创造的服饰器具就像蚕茧和蛛网,建造的宫殿城堡就像蚁穴和蜂窝,农耕在地表留下的印迹就像河狸筑坝对河流的改造,驯养给动植物带来的改变,就像昆虫在宿主植物表面造成的瘿瘤,或者寄生虫对蚂蚁行为的操纵。 蜘蛛织网用来抓虫子,人类的各种创造物同样也是追求自身目标的手段,其成效同样影响我们生存繁衍的前景,因而同样接受自然选择的考验;不同的是,指导蜘蛛织网行为的指令,是以基因的形式编码在遗传物质中,而指导人类创造活动的指令,则多半以观念的形式编码在我们头脑中,因而可以在个体生命期中获得和改变。 指导人类活动的观念,有些是从个人的观察和试探过程中获得的,正确有效的做法,在得到可意结果因而获得神经奖励之后,便固化成为经验;但观念更多的是从别人特别是父母兄长那里学来的,通过观察模仿他人做法,或听从他人指导而尝试,或仅仅倾听他人的陈述解说,皆可习得新观念。 因为观念可以如此在个体间传播,群体内会形成一些观念上共性,群体间则表现出差异,即所谓文化特性;语言的出现极大促进了观念传播,也使得观念世界变得极为丰富,更重要的是,作为一个符号系统,语言分离了符号和意义,从而彻底改变了观念的表征和传播方式:基于语言的观念习得,仅靠一对一的示范模仿已不再可行,必须借助一个社会化过程。 当你观察他人如何编织渔网时,可直接加以模仿并在头脑中形成指导编织行为的观念,而当别人向你讲解如何织网时,你得到的只是一串语音符号,其意义(即,就影响你的行为而言,那意味着什么)只能从其他途径获得,当然,讲解者可以为你解释一些陌生词汇,甚至交给你一本词典,但终究需要你预先掌握一组基本词汇和句法。 可是,给词汇(特别是基本词汇)下定义是非常困难的,严格说来,一个词的定义就是它曾被用于其中的全部场景和上下文,包括使用者在这些场景中的动机和意向,以及他们希望在听者头脑中唤起的观念,同类场景的同类表达需要,经由协调博弈而汇聚到某个词汇或句式,这些显然无法被一对一的传递,学习者只有被反复置于类似场景中才能习得。 实际上,人类儿童学习语言时,既不依靠词典,也无须别人为他讲解基本词汇和句法,甚至根本没人意识到句法的存在,对他来说,每个词汇的含义,每个句型的用法,便是他在听到它们时头脑中所唤起的全部场景和意向,以及它们之间的关系。 当文化中越来越多的部分以语言为介质而被表征和传播时,语言便成了文化的主要载体,传播不再只是个体之间的点对点交流,文化逐渐变得更像是一个自我积累和扩散的系统:一个最初产生于个体的新观念,唯有经语言表征,并植入所在群体的口述传统,才可能长远流传,否则便当即挥发了,因为表征此一观念的语句,脱离该口述传统是没有意义的。 这样一个以语言为载体,独立于特定个体而自成体系、自我维系的知识系统,被卡尔·波普称为“第三世界”[2];由于语义诞生于且始终关乎于现实场景,因而该知识系统总是具有某种客观性;文字的发明让第三世界变得越发非人格化,书面材料让知识可在极大的空间和时间跨度上传播,逻辑、数学、人工语言等形式系统的出现,也让第三世界变得更具客观性。 上述发展造就了人类一大独特性,假如我们将生命个体想象成机器人,指导其行为的是一组在受精卵形成之际被刷在遗传物质里的程序,那么对于像昆虫这样行为刻板的生物,这些代码终身不变,对行为较灵活的哺乳动物,部分代码会随个体经历而有所改变,而对人类,整套代码被分成了两部分:一部分仍刷在遗传物质里,另一部分则在成长过程中从文化系统中下载。 如此一来,(用信息业界的时髦术语)文化系统就像一项云服务,任何新生个体(就像新出厂的电脑裸机)只要插在上面,就会自动为自己下载一份操作系统和一组应用程序,并给自己装上;我们知道,电脑裸机是做不了多少事情的,同样,没安装任何文化的个人,算不上一个健全的人,表现不出人所应有的特性和行为,也无法在社会正常生活。 这项云服务是双向交互的,个人不仅从中获取特性与功能,也为其贡献内容,而且这一互动在个人整个生活史中始终持续着,个人之人格是否健全,禀赋是否优秀,生活是否成功,香火是否兴旺,皆有赖于其所安装的文化软件之功效;和电脑软件不同,文化软件的安装不是简单拷贝,更像是个体在一个特定序列的刺激之下自行编码的过程,其质量随天赋(即预装的那一半代码)和际遇而不同。 对于个人,这便是文化之意义所在;不过我们还可以从道金斯所提供的另一个角度看待文化:它是一种以人类头脑(或书面介质)为载体,通过口耳相传(或其他复制机制)而扩散的模因(meme)系统;模因就是寄生于人类头脑、参与行为调控过程的观念,就像基因参与生理过程一样。 头脑容纳某些模因,可能是因为它引出了有利行为,因而获得神经奖励而得以保存;但模因并非总是对容纳它的个体有利(请允许我暂且将个体利益等同于个体基因组的利益),因为基因组设计的神经奖励机制并非无懈可击,相反有许多可能被滥用的漏洞,正如有些药物可以让大脑错误的以为个体做成了某件好事(比如获得异性的亲睐),有些模因也可能让其宿主错误的以为自己获得了某种成就,赢得了赞许、社会支持,提升了社会地位和安全感。 所以,尽管文化对个人如此重要,让我们获得生命代码的另一半而成为完整健全的人,但并不能确保这一半代码的组成元素全部或总是忠实服务于个体利益;因为这些代码并不与基因组分享同一条复制通道,而平等共享复制通道乃复制因子之间团结一体精诚合作的前提,基因组正是在找到了确保这一点的适当细胞分裂机制之后,才实现了最终创造出我们的紧密合作。 可以想象,模因之间或许也可能达成某种合作并创造出类似于有机体的东西;假如一个孤立群体的文化元素之间密切配合而结成一体,跨越个体生死和世代更替而保持同质性(正如个体在细胞不断更替的同时保持同一),随群体分支裂变而增殖变异,或吞并其他群体而在文化上加以同化(就像动物个体吞食并消化其他个体),假如这样的文化有机体(即所谓第三世界)能够帮助其所寄生的群体增殖或征服其他群体,从而让自己(及其所包含的模因组)被更多的复制,那么它确实就有了一些有机体的特征,如此看待它或许可以让我们更好的理解文化。 像蚂蚁蜜蜂这样的真社会性动物,其巢群可以团结的像单一个体,便是因为除后虫之外都(至少暂时)失去了生育能力,因而整个巢群的基因复制通道只剩下一条;人类个体仍保有生育能力,基因复制通道仍在个体间分立,被集体化的,是模因复制通道,因而人类之社会性体现在文化层面上;于是个人有了双重角色:既是独立个体,又是社会细胞。 当然,模因和基因有着全然不同的复制、变异、交换和组织机制,因而上述有机体隐喻尽管能带来些启发,但也有其危险,在对模因的特性有更多了解之前,还不能走得太远。 ----------------------------------------- [1]延伸表现型(extended phenotype)是进化生物学家理查德·道金斯(Richard Dawkins)在1982年的《延伸表现型》(The Extended Phenotype)一书中提出的概念,指遗传编码不仅表达为个体性状和行为模式,也表达在个体之创造物和对环境之改造上,甚至表达在其他生物个体的性状和行为模式上;作为有机体生存繁衍策略的组成部分,后两种表达(即延伸表现型)与前一种有着同等地位,同样由遗传编码所操纵。 [2]哲学家卡尔·波普(Karl Popper)将现实物理世界称为第一世界,将个人头脑中的观念世界称为第二世界,将编码在语言和其他符号系统中、独立于个体头脑的知识系统称为第三世界。
[译文]人类听力的进化

Testing ancient human hearing via fossilized ear bones
利用耳骨化石测量古人听力

作者:Rolf Quam @ 2015-9-26
译者:沈沉(@你在何地-sxy)
校对:Whig Zhou(@whigzhou)
来源:The Conversation,https://theconversation.com/testing-ancient-human-hearing-via-fossilized-ear-bones-47973

How did the world sound to our ancient human relatives two million years ago?

整个世界在我们200万年前的人族亲戚听来是个什么样子?

While we obviously don’t have any sound recordings or written records from anywhere near that long ago, we do have one clue: the fossilized bones from inside their ears. The internal anatomy of the ear influences its hearing abilities.

显然,我们并没有那么久以前留下来的录音资料或书面记录,但我们确实拥有一条线索:古人耳内的骨头化石。耳朵的内部构造能够影响其听觉能力。

Using CT scans and careful virtual reconstructions, my international colleagues and I think we’ve demonstrated how our very ancient ancestors heard the world. And this isn’t just an academic enterprise; hearing abilities are closely tied with verbal communication.

经CT扫描并精心进行虚拟重构之后,我和一些国际同僚认为,我们已经展示出了远古先人是如何听到这个世界的。这可不仅仅是一项学术事业,因为听觉能力与口头交流是密切相关的。

By figuring out when certain hearing capacities emerged during our evolutionary history, we might be able to shed some light on when spoken language started to evolve. That’s one of the most hotly debated questions in paleoanthropology, since many researchers consider the capacity for spoken language a defining human feature.

通过估计特定听觉能力在人类进化史上何时出现,我们就可能对口头语言何时开始进化有所了解。这是古人类学目前争论最为火热的问题之一,因为许多研究者认为口语能力是一项用来定义人类的特征。

Human hearing is unique among primates
人类听觉在灵长类中非常独特

We modern human beings have better hearing across a wider range of frequencies (more...)

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Testing ancient human hearing via fossilized ear bones 利用耳骨化石测量古人听力 作者:Rolf Quam @ 2015-9-26 译者:沈沉(@你在何地-sxy) 校对:Whig Zhou(@whigzhou) 来源:The Conversation,https://theconversation.com/testing-ancient-human-hearing-via-fossilized-ear-bones-47973 How did the world sound to our ancient human relatives two million years ago? 整个世界在我们200万年前的人族亲戚听来是个什么样子? While we obviously don’t have any sound recordings or written records from anywhere near that long ago, we do have one clue: the fossilized bones from inside their ears. The internal anatomy of the ear influences its hearing abilities. 显然,我们并没有那么久以前留下来的录音资料或书面记录,但我们确实拥有一条线索:古人耳内的骨头化石。耳朵的内部构造能够影响其听觉能力。 Using CT scans and careful virtual reconstructions, my international colleagues and I think we’ve demonstrated how our very ancient ancestors heard the world. And this isn’t just an academic enterprise; hearing abilities are closely tied with verbal communication. 经CT扫描并精心进行虚拟重构之后,我和一些国际同僚认为,我们已经展示出了远古先人是如何听到这个世界的。这可不仅仅是一项学术事业,因为听觉能力与口头交流是密切相关的。 By figuring out when certain hearing capacities emerged during our evolutionary history, we might be able to shed some light on when spoken language started to evolve. That’s one of the most hotly debated questions in paleoanthropology, since many researchers consider the capacity for spoken language a defining human feature. 通过估计特定听觉能力在人类进化史上何时出现,我们就可能对口头语言何时开始进化有所了解。这是古人类学目前争论最为火热的问题之一,因为许多研究者认为口语能力是一项用来定义人类的特征。 Human hearing is unique among primates 人类听觉在灵长类中非常独特 We modern human beings have better hearing across a wider range of frequencies than most other primates, including chimpanzees, our closest living relative. Generally, we’re able to hear sounds very well between 1.0-6.0 kHz, a range that includes many of the sounds emitted during spoken language. Most of the vowels fall below about 2.0 kHz, while the higher frequencies mainly contain consonants. 与绝大多数灵长动物(包括与我们血缘最近的近亲黑猩猩)相比,现代人在一个更大的频率区间内拥有更好的听力。一般来说,我们能够很好地听清1.0-6.0千赫之间的声音,口语交流时发出的许多声音就处于这一区间内。绝大多数元音大概落在2.0千赫以下,更高的频率则主要包含辅音。 Thanks to testing of their hearing in the lab, we know that chimpanzees and most other primates aren’t as sensitive in that same range. Chimpanzee hearing – like most other primates who also live in Africa, including baboons – shows a loss in sensitivity between 1.0-4.0 kHz. In contrast, human beings maintain good hearing throughout this frequency range. 基于实验室的听力测量,我们知道黑猩猩和绝大多数其他灵长动物对于上述频率区间并没有这么敏感。黑猩猩的听力在1.0-4.0千赫区间内丧失了敏感性,其他绝大多数生活于非洲的灵长动物也是如此,包括狒狒。人类与之不同,在这一频率区间内仍然能有很好的听力。 We’re interested in finding out when this human hearing pattern first emerged during our evolutionary history. In particular, if we could find a similar pattern of good hearing between 1.0-6.0 kHz in a fossil human species, then we could make an argument that language was present. 我们的兴趣是想要找出人类的这种听觉模式在进化史上最早出现于何时。特别是,如果我们能从某个人类化石上面找到在1.0-6.0千赫之间拥有良好听力这种类似模式,那么我们就可以论证说语言已经存在。 Testing the hearing of a long-gone individual 测量远古人类的听力 To study hearing using fossils, we measure a large number of dimensions of the ancient ears – including the length of the ear canal, the size of the ear drum and so on – using virtual reconstructions of the fragile skulls on the computer. Then we input all these data into a computer model. 使用化石来测量听力,我们需要在电脑上对易碎的头骨进行虚拟重构,然后测量古人耳朵的许许多多指标,包括耳道长度、耳膜大小等等。然后我们将所有这些数据都输入一个电脑模型之中。 Published previously in the bioengineering literature, the model predicts how a person hears based on his ear anatomy. It studies the capacity of the ear as a receiver of a signal, similar to an antenna. The results tell us how efficiently the ear transmits sound energy from the environment to the brain. 这个模型此前已经在生物工程文献中发表,能够根据一个人的耳朵构造预测其听力。它研究了耳朵作为与天线类似的信号接收器的能力,其结果能告诉我们耳朵将周围环境中的声能传输到大脑的效率。 We first tested the model on chimpanzee skulls, and got results similar to those of researchers who tested chimpanzee hearing in the lab. Since we know the model accurately predicts how humans hear and how chimpanzees hear, it should provide reliable results for our fossil human ancestors as well. 我们在黑猩猩头骨上面检验了这个模型,得到的结果与研究人员在实验室得到的黑猩猩听力相似。因此,我们知道这个模型能够准确预测人类听力和黑猩猩听力,所以将它应用于古人化石上面,也应该能够为我们提供可靠的结论。 What do the fossils tell us? 化石告诉了我们什么? Previously, we studied the hearing abilities in several fossil hominin individuals from the site of the Sima de los Huesos (Pit of the Bones) in northern Spain. These fossils are about 430,000 years old, and anthropologists consider them to represent ancestors of the later Neanderthals. Based on ear bone measurements we took, the computer model calculated that hearing abilities in the Sima hominins were nearly identical to living humans in showing a broad region of good hearing. 此前,我们已经研究过西班牙北部“胡瑟裂谷”(西班牙语意为“骨坑”)遗址的几个古人类化石的听觉能力。这些化石大概是43万年前的,人类学家认为他们代表了晚期尼安德特人的祖先。基于我们所进行的耳骨测量,电脑模型计算出“裂谷”古人类的听觉能力与现存人类的几近相同,都在很大范围内表现出良好听力。 In our current study published in Science Advances, we worked with much earlier hominin individuals, representing the species Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus. These fossils were excavated at the sites of Sterkfontein and Swartkrans in South Africa, and likely date to around two million years ago. 在发表于《科学进展》上的最新研究中,我们研究了更为远古的古人类,即非洲南猿和傍人粗壮种。这些化石是在南非的斯特克方藤和斯沃特兰斯遗址发掘出来的,很可能存活于约200万年以前。 image-20150923-2626-3ujn1b Auditory sensitivity between 0.5-5.0 kHz for chimpanzees, humans and the early hominins. Points higher on the curve indicate greater auditory sensitivity. (A) Region of maximum sensitivity. The early hominins are shifted toward slightly higher frequencies compared with chimpanzees. (B) Hearing results. The early hominins are more sensitive than either chimpanzees or humans up to around 3 kHz. Above around 3.5 kHz, the early hominins resemble chimpanzees more closely in showing a drop-off in sensitivity. 黑猩猩、人类和早期古人类在0.5-5.0千赫之间的听觉敏感度。曲线中更高的点代表更高的听觉敏感度。(A)代表敏感度最高区间。与黑猩猩相比,早期古人类的对应区间向更高频率略有偏移。(B)代表听力结果。在约3千赫之前,早期古人类的敏感度既高于黑猩猩,也高于人类。在高于3.5千赫的区间,早期古人类更接近黑猩猩,表现出敏感度的下降。 When we measured their ear structures and modeled their hearing, we found they had a hearing pattern that was more similar to a chimpanzee – but slightly modified in the human direction. In fact, these early hominins showed better hearing than either chimpanzees or modern humans from about 1.0-3.0 kHz, and the region of best hearing was shifted toward slightly higher frequencies compared with chimpanzees. 在测量了他们的耳朵构造并用模型计算了其听力以后,我们发现他们的听觉模式更接近于黑猩猩,但朝人类的方向略有修正。事实上,在1.0-3.0千赫区间,这些早期古人类的听力比黑猩猩或现代人的都要好。而且与黑猩猩相比,他们的最佳听力区间向高频率方向略有偏移。 It turns out this auditory pattern may have been a particular advantage for living on the savanna. We know A. africanus and and P. robustus regularly occupied the savanna, since as much as half of their diet was made up of resources found in open environments, based on measurements of isotopes in their teeth. 原来,对于稀树大草原上的生活而言,这种听力模式可能别有优势。我们知道,非洲南猿和傍人粗壮种经常会生活在稀树大草原上,因为他们的食谱有一半来自于开阔环境中才能找到的资源,而这是对他们牙齿中的同位素进行测量后发现的。 In more open environments, sound waves don’t travel as far as they do in the rain forest canopy. Sound signals tends to fade out sooner, and short-range communication is favored on the savanna. The hearing pattern of these early hominins – greater sensitivity than humans or chimpanzees to frequencies between 1.0-3.0 kHz and maximum sensitivity at slightly higher frequencies than in chimps – that would work well in these conditions. 在更为开阔的环境中,声波传播不到热带雨林密林中那么远。声音信号消逝更快,因此在稀树大草原上短程交流更受喜爱。在这种环境中,这些早期古人类的听觉模式(在1.0-3.0千赫的频率区间中比黑猩猩或现代人更敏感,且敏感度最高区间的对应频率比黑猩猩要稍高一些)相当适用。 From hearing to talking 从听到说 A. africanus and P. robustus had hearing abilities similar to a chimpanzee, but with some slight differences in the direction of humans. 非洲南猿和傍人粗壮种的听觉能力与黑猩猩近似,同时向人类的方向略有偏差。 There is a general consensus among anthropologists that the small brain size and ape-like cranial anatomy and vocal tract in these early hominins indicates they likely did not have the capacity for language. 人类学家中存在一个普遍共识:这些早期古人类的大脑尺寸较小、颅骨构造和声道更像猿,表明他们很可能并不具备语言能力。 My colleagues and I aren’t arguing that these early hominins had language, with its implications of symbolic content. They certainly could communicate vocally, though. All primates do, and many species regularly emit a variety of vocalizations including grunts, screams, howls and so on. 我和同僚并不是争论说这些早期古人类拥有语言,因为语言包含有符号性内容这层意思。但是,他们肯定能够进行口头交流。所有灵长动物都能做到这一点,而且许多物种还能经常性地发出各种不同的声音,包括咕噜、尖叫、咆哮等等。 But these South African fossils have given us another hearing data point as we try to puzzle out the emergence of language. Two million years ago, it looks like they didn’t have language. But 430,000 years ago, it looks like the Sima de los Huesos hominins did. We suspect that sometime between these early South African forms and the later more human-like forms from the Sima, language emerged. Now we just need to narrow that window. 但在我们尝试解答语言起源的难题时,南非的这些化石给我们提供了另外一组听力数据论点。200万年前,他们似乎还没有语言。但43万年前,似乎“胡瑟裂谷”的古人类已经拥有语言了。我们估计,大概在这些早期南非种和更晚的更像人类的“裂谷”种之间的某个时候,语言就出现了。现在,我们只需要把这个窗口期进一步缩短。 We hope to continue this kind of work on hearing patterns in different groups of ancient hominins from various places and time periods. The discovery of a new hominin species, Homo naledi, announced just a couple of weeks ago from a different site in South Africa, underscores how much there is left to uncover. 我们希望把这项工作继续做下去,研究来自不同地区和时期的不同古人类群体的听觉模式。仅在数周之前,南非另外一个遗址又宣布发现了一种新的古人类物种,即纳勒迪人。这一发现凸显了我们还有多少事情需要去发现。 (编辑:辉格@whigzhou) *注:本译文未经原作者授权,本站对原文不持有也不主张任何权利,如果你恰好对原文拥有权益并希望我们移除相关内容,请私信联系,我们会立即作出响应。

——海德沙龙·翻译组,致力于将英文世界的好文章搬进中文世界——

不那么重要

【2016-04-08】

@海德沙龙 《美式英语里那些”u”是怎么丢掉的》 是啊,究竟是怎么弄丢的?

@whigzhou: 文化进化的有趣案例,印刷术启动了一个英语拼写向统一标准靠拢的自发协调过程,而由于传播障碍的存在,协调过程在英美两个社会各自进行,最终收敛到了不同的均衡点。

@whigzhou: 由此也可看出,在协调博弈中,均衡点的位置往往有着很大任意性,最终收敛在哪个点上也并不那么重要(-(more...)

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【2016-04-08】 @海德沙龙 《美式英语里那些"u"是怎么丢掉的》 是啊,究竟是怎么弄丢的? @whigzhou: 文化进化的有趣案例,印刷术启动了一个英语拼写向统一标准靠拢的自发协调过程,而由于传播障碍的存在,协调过程在英美两个社会各自进行,最终收敛到了不同的均衡点。 @whigzhou: 由此也可看出,在协调博弈中,均衡点的位置往往有着很大任意性,最终收敛在哪个点上也并不那么重要(-or和-our在功能上同样有效),重要的是能否收敛到某个点  
[译文]美式英语里那些”u”是怎么丢掉的

The case of the missing “u”s in American English
美式英语缺失的u

作者:Olivia Goldhill @2016-1-17
译者:林翠(@cwlinnil)
校对:小册子(@昵称被抢的小册子)
来源:Quartz,http://qz.com/596395/the-case-of-the-missing-us-in-american-english/

When my American editor asked me to research why Brits spell their words with so many extra ‘u’s, I immediately knew he had it all wrong. As a British journalist, it’s perfectly obvious to me that we have the correct number of ‘u’s, and that American spelling has lost its vowels along the way.

我的编辑,美国人,约我写文探讨英国人拼写词汇时用到的那么多额外的u,我第一反应是他从提法上就错了。在我这位英国记者看来,毫无疑问,我们用的u不多不少,是美国人不知从何时起丢掉了一些元音。

“Color,” “honor,” and “favor” all look quite stubby to me—they’re positively crying out to be adorned with a few extra ‘u’s.

像color,honor,favor这样的词,以我看来又粗又短——正不停哭叫着要找回那些额外的u来装扮其容貌。

But it turns out that the “o(u)r” suffix has quite a confused history. The Online Etymology Dictionary reports that –our comes from old French while –or is Latin. English has used both endings for several centuries. Indeed, the first three folios of Shakespeare’s plays reportedly used both spellings equally.

但其实,o(u)r这个后缀来历挺复杂。查在线词源词典,-our来自古法文,-or来自拉丁文。曾经有好几百年,两种结尾同时在英文里使用。例如,在莎士比亚戏剧前三版的对开本里,据说两种拼写就不加区分。

But by the late 18th and early 19th centuries, both the US and the UK started to solidify their preferences, and did so differently.

但在十八世纪后期至十九世纪前期,美国人和英国人各自确立了截然不同的偏好。

The US took a particularly strong stand thanks to Noah Webster, American lexicographer and c(more...)

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The case of the missing “u”s in American English 美式英语缺失的u 作者:Olivia Goldhill @2016-1-17 译者:林翠(@cwlinnil) 校对:小册子(@昵称被抢的小册子) 来源:Quartz,http://qz.com/596395/the-case-of-the-missing-us-in-american-english/ When my American editor asked me to research why Brits spell their words with so many extra ‘u’s, I immediately knew he had it all wrong. As a British journalist, it’s perfectly obvious to me that we have the correct number of ‘u’s, and that American spelling has lost its vowels along the way. 我的编辑,美国人,约我写文探讨英国人拼写词汇时用到的那么多额外的u,我第一反应是他从提法上就错了。在我这位英国记者看来,毫无疑问,我们用的u不多不少,是美国人不知从何时起丢掉了一些元音。 “Color,” “honor,” and “favor” all look quite stubby to me—they’re positively crying out to be adorned with a few extra ‘u’s. 像color,honor,favor这样的词,以我看来又粗又短——正不停哭叫着要找回那些额外的u来装扮其容貌。 But it turns out that the “o(u)r” suffix has quite a confused history. The Online Etymology Dictionary reports that –our comes from old French while –or is Latin. English has used both endings for several centuries. Indeed, the first three folios of Shakespeare’s plays reportedly used both spellings equally. 但其实,o(u)r这个后缀来历挺复杂。查在线词源词典,-our来自古法文,-or来自拉丁文。曾经有好几百年,两种结尾同时在英文里使用。例如,在莎士比亚戏剧前三版的对开本里,据说两种拼写就不加区分。 But by the late 18th and early 19th centuries, both the US and the UK started to solidify their preferences, and did so differently. 但在十八世纪后期至十九世纪前期,美国人和英国人各自确立了截然不同的偏好。 The US took a particularly strong stand thanks to Noah Webster, American lexicographer and co-namesake of the Merriam-Webster dictionaries. Webster was a language reformer and, as Merriam-Webster.com notes, the creator of a dictionary in 1806 that attempted to rectify some of the inconsistencies he observed in English spelling. He preferred to use the –or suffix and also suggested many other successful changes, such as reversing “re” to create “theater” and “center,” rather than “theatre” and centre.” 美式拼写立场特别明确,这要归功于美国词典编纂家诺亚·韦伯斯特,即《韦氏词典》的韦氏。韦伯斯特是当年的语言革新人物,据公司官网Merriam-Webster.com 提供的资料,他在1806年出版词典,目的之一是澄清某些不一致的英文拼写。他选择了后缀 -or,除此还有很多得到采用的改动,比如对调 -re为-er后,造出theater和center,代替了原有的theatre和centre。 However, other Webster proposals, such as changing “tongue” to “tung,” “women” to “wimmen,” “island” to “iland,” and “thumb” to “thum” were ultimately rejected. 韦伯斯特也有过一些别的提议,后来没有得到认可,例如把tongue换成tung,women换成wimmen,island换成iland,thumb换成thum。 Meanwhile in the UK, Samuel Johnson wrote A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755. Johnson was far more of a spelling purist than Webster, and decided that in cases where the origin of the word was unclear, it was more likely to have a French than Latin root. “We have few Latin words, among the terms of domestick use, which are not French,” wrote Johnson. And so he preferred –our to –or. 而在英国,塞缪尔·约翰逊博士于1755年编就《英文字典》。约翰逊博士远比韦伯斯特更热衷于拼写纯正化。并且断定,如果一个词来源不清楚,那它更可能拥有法文词根,而非拉丁词根。约翰逊博士的说法是:“我们平常用的词里面,非法语来源的拉丁词不多。”所以, -our与 -or之间他选择 -our。 “I have endeavoured to proceed with a scholar’s reverence for antiquity, and a grammarian’s regard to the genius of our tongue,” he wrote. As such, he “attempted few alterations.” 他写道:“学者崇奉古老传统,语法家则看重吾辈口舌之灵巧,我始终以此两者自勉。”有鉴于此,他“尽量不作改动。” So while the UK chose to preserve linguistic roots, the US opted to modernize spelling. And if you’re wondering which country got it right, the answer is, well, neither. Language is constantly evolving, and the US and UK simply went their different linguistic ways. 总而言之,在英国人选择保护词源时,美国人则选择改革拼写。谁对谁错的问题没有意义。语言在不断地演变,英美只是走上了不同进化道路,如此而已。 (编辑:辉格@whigzhou) *注:本译文未经原作者授权,本站对原文不持有也不主张任何权利,如果你恰好对原文拥有权益并希望我们移除相关内容,请私信联系,我们会立即作出响应。

——海德沙龙·翻译组,致力于将英文世界的好文章搬进中文世界——

会说有文字语言的文盲

【2016-01-15】

@海德沙龙 《数数能力的进化》 人类数数和使用数字的能力,是一项十分晚近的发展, 其历史很可能远远短于现代智人的历史,人类学家发现,多数狩猎采集群体的语言都缺乏表示比3更大数字的词汇,本文介绍了一项对澳洲语系的各语言中数字词汇演变的研究,其中有些很有意思的发现

@海德沙龙: 另外,显示计数能力的考古证据最早出现于四万多年前的中石器时代(一块叫Lebombo bone的骨头,上面有许多计数刻痕),而中石器时代正经历着一次认知革命。

(more...)
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【2016-01-15】 @海德沙龙 《数数能力的进化》 人类数数和使用数字的能力,是一项十分晚近的发展, 其历史很可能远远短于现代智人的历史,人类学家发现,多数狩猎采集群体的语言都缺乏表示比3更大数字的词汇,本文介绍了一项对澳洲语系的各语言中数字词汇演变的研究,其中有些很有意思的发现 @海德沙龙: 另外,显示计数能力的考古证据最早出现于四万多年前的中石器时代(一块叫Lebombo bone的骨头,上面有许多计数刻痕),而中石器时代正经历着一次认知革命。 @whigzhou: 计数、文字以及更一般的符号处理能力,让人类认知系统跨上了一个台阶,我在《沐猿而冠》中将之称为“第二轮升级” @whigzhou: 《信息简史》作者(见第二章)也认为符号处理能力是一种革命性的发展,因而有文字语言和无文字语言有着根本性的区别,我觉得很有道理,依我看,即便是习得了有文字语言的文盲,认知能力也大不同于只掌握了无文字语言的人 @whigzhou: 因为有文字语言能够编码高级而复杂的多的meme系统,而更高级复杂的meme系统同样可以惠及文盲,只要他习得该语言  
小心被中文毒害

【2015-10-30】

最近听到不少诸如“别让孩子学中文或读中文材料以免受其毒害”之类的,我看有点反应过度了,说几点看法:

1)中文(即汉语官话之书面语)不是很好的语言,特别是在表达精确而复杂的结构性内容时,

2)但这不好不是该语言的“本性”决定的,而是因为它缺乏被高密度大强度的运用于此类精确表达的历史,

3)认为学某种语言就会被该语言所特有的思维模式所困住,这种想法过于语言决定论了,

4)有些人确实会被语言困住,但那是因为他们自己足够蠢,或信息条件足够闭塞,

5)语言没什么固有不变的本性,使用者总是在不断改造它,当某种表达需(more...)

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【2015-10-30】 最近听到不少诸如“别让孩子学中文或读中文材料以免受其毒害”之类的,我看有点反应过度了,说几点看法: 1)中文(即汉语官话之书面语)不是很好的语言,特别是在表达精确而复杂的结构性内容时, 2)但这不好不是该语言的“本性”决定的,而是因为它缺乏被高密度大强度的运用于此类精确表达的历史, 3)认为学某种语言就会被该语言所特有的思维模式所困住,这种想法过于语言决定论了, 4)有些人确实会被语言困住,但那是因为他们自己足够蠢,或信息条件足够闭塞, 5)语言没什么固有不变的本性,使用者总是在不断改造它,当某种表达需求足够强烈、频繁而普遍时,新成分就会被创造出来, 6)就认知能力发展而言,拼音化和非拼音化书面语各有好处,有机会各学一门挺好, 7)但不学也没什么大不了的,因为发展符号认知能力的其他机会很多,错过一种也无所谓, 8)当代中文材料里垃圾居多,这没错, 9)但因此而认为孩子学中文时接触这些材料会把脑子学坏,是没有道理的过度恐慌, 10)许多孩子确实被教坏了,比如学到很多坏的思考方法,习得很多坏的文化, 11)但这不是因为接触了太多垃圾,而是因为没机会读到好东西, 12)希望将孩子隔离在垃圾之外,这既无必要,也做不到,哪里都有很多垃圾,英文世界也是, 13)重要的是要让他有机会接触好东西,品味都是靠多吃练出来的。  
语义的起源

【2015-10-16】

@海德沙龙 本文摘选自作者一部有关桑(布须曼)人神话传说的专著,其中谈论了桑人神话中的一种叙事方式,即如何通过图形或符号传达意义,对我们理解语言的演化和早期图形文字的起源都有所启发,类似现象在其他文化中也都可以看到,但桑人提供了一个更原始朴素的例子 °桑人神话的叙事方式

@whigzhou: 我推荐此文是因为它呼应了我有关语言的一个看法:言语无法也不必包含意义,它只是一个刺激序列,用于在听者头脑里唤起相应的观念。

(more...)
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【2015-10-16】 @海德沙龙 本文摘选自作者一部有关桑(布须曼)人神话传说的专著,其中谈论了桑人神话中的一种叙事方式,即如何通过图形或符号传达意义,对我们理解语言的演化和早期图形文字的起源都有所启发,类似现象在其他文化中也都可以看到,但桑人提供了一个更原始朴素的例子 °桑人神话的叙事方式 @whigzhou: 我推荐此文是因为它呼应了我有关语言的一个看法:言语无法也不必包含意义,它只是一个刺激序列,用于在听者头脑里唤起相应的观念。 @whigzhou: 由此引出两个推论:1)言语的信息量和被交流观念的信息量没有直接对应关系;2)有效交流所需要的最小言语单位是不可确定的,可能只是一个音节,也可能是一段长篇大论 @whigzhou: 这一观点若运用在短语这一层次(表现为所谓典故),相信多数人都会同意,但其实在基础词汇这一层次,和多个句子组成的大段落这样的层次,同样成立  
[大象]“进化”还是“演化”?

“进化”还是“演化”?
辉格
2015年6月6日

时不时会听到这样一种说法,说把“evolution”翻译成“进化”是个错误,因为后者暗含了“进步”的意思,因而这个译法容易让人错误的以为生物进化过程是有着特定方向的,甚至是朝着某种预定目标阶梯式推进的,就像登山那样,循着一级级台阶爬向一个预先存在的巅峰,而最终有幸站在巅峰上的,正是我们人类。

批评者(本文一律用这个词来指称持下列批评意见的人)认为,进化没有方向性,更没有预定目标,进化这个概念也并不包含“从低级到高级”的进步意味(我们甚至无法客观的比较高级和低级),而且evolution一词也没有这样的含义,所以正确的译法是“演化”;比如2009年出版的《为什么要相信达尔文》一书便采用了这一译法,芝加哥大学的龙漫远教授在为该译本作序时还特意强调:——

对于中心概念evolution——这一被长期误译为‘进化’的最重要的单词,书使用了中国近代最伟大的学者和翻译家之一严复准确翻译出的‘演化’(天演)一词。这是中文世界对演化生物学中心概念理解的一个重要进步。

另外,据说前些年台湾的官编教科书也都改用了“演化”这一译法。

那么,上述批评是否成立?“进化”果真是个误译吗?我的回答并不是简单的是或否,因为这一批评实际上包含了一系列观点,让我们一个个分开看。

【词源学】

英语evolution一词源自拉丁语evolvo,意思是展开或打开,批评者也常据此宣称该词没有进步和目的性意味;我承认,它确实没有进步意味,但有着强烈的目的性意味,实际上,该词在近代被(比如18世纪瑞士博物学家Charles Bonnet)用于描绘生物现象时,起初是指生物个体的发育过程,即后来用develop一词所表达的意思。

此时,“展开”的意思便是“按预定步骤、朝着预定结果展开”,因为很明显,生物个体的发育过程,即是从未成形的胚胎向着该物种所特有的成熟形态发展的过程,这是一个其步骤和结果皆高度可预见的过程;这一点我们对照evolution的另一种用法可以看得更清楚:作为一个军事术语,该词的意思是,让军队(比如在演习中)按预定方案展开部署。

后来,当进化思想开始萌生时,这个词转而被用来描绘生物的种系发生过程,也就是说,在如此使用该词的人看来,种系发生就像个体发育一样,是在一种生物内在倾向的驱动下自动展开的过程;目前有据可查的首位采用该用法的学者是苏格兰博物学家罗伯特·詹姆森,他在一篇论(more...)

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“进化”还是“演化”? 辉格 2015年6月6日 时不时会听到这样一种说法,说把“evolution”翻译成“进化”是个错误,因为后者暗含了“进步”的意思,因而这个译法容易让人错误的以为生物进化过程是有着特定方向的,甚至是朝着某种预定目标阶梯式推进的,就像登山那样,循着一级级台阶爬向一个预先存在的巅峰,而最终有幸站在巅峰上的,正是我们人类。 批评者(本文一律用这个词来指称持下列批评意见的人)认为,进化没有方向性,更没有预定目标,进化这个概念也并不包含“从低级到高级”的进步意味(我们甚至无法客观的比较高级和低级),而且evolution一词也没有这样的含义,所以正确的译法是“演化”;比如2009年出版的《为什么要相信达尔文》一书便采用了这一译法,芝加哥大学的龙漫远教授在为该译本作序时还特意强调:——

对于中心概念evolution——这一被长期误译为‘进化’的最重要的单词,书使用了中国近代最伟大的学者和翻译家之一严复准确翻译出的‘演化’(天演)一词。这是中文世界对演化生物学中心概念理解的一个重要进步。

另外,据说前些年台湾的官编教科书也都改用了“演化”这一译法。 那么,上述批评是否成立?“进化”果真是个误译吗?我的回答并不是简单的是或否,因为这一批评实际上包含了一系列观点,让我们一个个分开看。 【词源学】 英语evolution一词源自拉丁语evolvo,意思是展开或打开,批评者也常据此宣称该词没有进步和目的性意味;我承认,它确实没有进步意味,但有着强烈的目的性意味,实际上,该词在近代被(比如18世纪瑞士博物学家[[Charles Bonnet]])用于描绘生物现象时,起初是指生物个体的发育过程,即后来用develop一词所表达的意思。 此时,“展开”的意思便是“按预定步骤、朝着预定结果展开”,因为很明显,生物个体的发育过程,即是从未成形的胚胎向着该物种所特有的成熟形态发展的过程,这是一个其步骤和结果皆高度可预见的过程;这一点我们对照evolution的另一种用法可以看得更清楚:作为一个军事术语,该词的意思是,让军队(比如在演习中)按预定方案展开部署。 后来,当进化思想开始萌生时,这个词转而被用来描绘生物的种系发生过程,也就是说,在如此使用该词的人看来,种系发生就像个体发育一样,是在一种生物内在倾向的驱动下自动展开的过程;目前有据可查的首位采用该用法的学者是苏格兰博物学家罗伯特·詹姆森,他在一篇论文里介绍拉马克理论时用了evolve一词,而拉马克的进化理论,恰恰是一种目的论的、阶梯式的线性进化观。 这样的进化观念,按现代生物学理论,当然是非常错误的,但当时许多博物学家确实或多或少是这么认为的,这也许让进化一词背上了一个历史包袱:容易令人望文生义而产生一些不恰当的联想,但这包袱不应由翻译者负责,因为原文本来就带着这层意思;支持这一点的另一个有力证据是:英语里还有devolution一词,是evolution的反义词,意思是退化,evolution若果真没有方向意味,那devolution又从何谈起? 【进化到底有没有方向性?】 至此,我已赞同了批评者的一个观点:“进化”一词曾经不恰当的包含了目的论和阶梯式进步的意味(但责任不在翻译者);那么,在排除了这个低级错误之后,进化过程是否仍可识别出某种方向性,让它仍配得上“进”这个字? 回答这个问题之前,我想最好先澄清一下:什么叫“进化”?什么叫“有没有”?什么叫“方向性”?先看第一个问号。 进化是指地球生物的全部历史吗?还是指该历史的某个方面?假如是后者,那它似乎就很容易配得上“进”字,因为我们可以认为它是专指整棵种系发生树上那些复杂性随时间而提升的线路,你可能会说这只是在玩弄文字游戏,但我有充分理由如此使用进化这一概念,因为这正是生物学界也是日常谈论中的传统用法。 实际上,从拉马克、斯宾塞到达尔文,提出种种进化理论的动机,就是为了解释:我们所看到的令人惊叹的复杂生命形态,是如何从更简单原始的形态演变而来的,正是这些他们所认为的高级生物在结构上的复杂性和功能上的精巧,牵引着他们的好奇心,需要一个特别的解释——假如他们不满足于“上帝创造了它们”这句无内容空话的话。 所以,作为对复杂性来源的一种解释,进化理论的要点即在于阐明,从简单到复杂这一有着明确方向性的过程是如何发生的,当然,你可以说这些进程只是整个生物历史中的一些线索,并非全部,这或许没错,问题是,我们何以认定“进化”一词非得是指整个生物史而不是其某个方面呢?况且,从它被早期进化理论家使用的上下文看,它难道不总是和“从简单到复杂、从低级到高级”这样的意思联系在一起吗?不妨读一下《物种起源》最后一节:

凝视树木交错的河岸,许多种类的无数植物覆盖其上,群鸟鸣于灌木丛中,各种昆虫飞来飞去,蚯蚓在湿土里爬过,并且默想一下,这些构造精巧的类型,彼此这样相异,并以这样复杂的方式相互依存,而它们都是由于在我们周围发生作用的法则产生出来的,这岂非有趣之事。……这样,从自然界的战争里,从饥饿和死亡里,我们便能体会到最可赞美的目的,即高级动物的产生,直接随之而至。认为生命及其若干能力原来是造物主注入到少数类型或一个类型中去的,而且认为在这个行星按照引力的既定法则继续运行的时候,最美丽的和最奇异的类型从如此简单的始端,过去,曾经而且现今还在进化着;这种观点是极其壮丽的。

随便翻几本谈论进化史的著作,类似辞句比比皆是。更明确的证据来自各种生物或地质史教科书上的年代表(可以参考“[[Timeline of the evolutionary history of life]]”和“{{生命演化历程}}”这两个维基词条),晚近年代的标志性生物,总是比早先年代的更复杂,换句话说,尽管简单形态的生物也在不断演变并不断产生新类元,可一旦出现了比它们更复杂的类型,前者就不会再被当作某个地质年代的标志性生物。 反过来,我们很少听到有人用进化这个词去描绘像器官退化这样的事情,这种事情确实存在,比如许多寄生生物,随着其与宿主的共生关系的持续,在某些功能上日益依赖宿主,因而相应器官退化甚至消失,可是人们用来描绘这种情况的词汇,更可能是退化而非进化;如此,我们难道没有理由认为,人们提及“进化”时,强调的正是生物历史中复杂性提升的那些方面? 【那么整个生物历史有方向性吗?】 至此,我的论证仅仅针对“进化”一词的用法,这是个语言学问题,并未涉及任何生物学事实,你可能觉得这样的话题过于琐碎,好吧,现在让我们抛开词义之争,看看在事实问题上还有没有什么分歧。 直觉上,我们很容易相信生物历史是有方向性的(这里所谓方向性,是指某项统计指标与时间的相关性,即,若以该指标为Y轴,时间为X轴,采样值所构成的曲线要么向上倾向,要么向下倾斜),比如就以下类型的首次出现而言:真核生物晚于原核生物、多细胞晚于单细胞、复杂神经系统(比如大脑)晚于简单神经系统、真社会性昆虫晚于非社会性昆虫……总之,更复杂的形态总是更晚出现(咦?这不正是进化论的核心要点之一吗?) 这样,我们至少找出了一个指标——每个地质年代的最高生物复杂性——它是有方向性的。 但是批评者拒绝承认生物历史具有方向性:因为我们没有理由认为自然选择在任何条件下都偏爱更复杂的形态,而事实已表明,在某些条件下(比如在某些寄生关系中),它恰恰偏爱简单形态,同时,我们不能假定未来环境条件会如何变化,所以,从我们所接受的进化理论中,推不出任何方向性。 这个理由本身没错,问题是,我们所谈论的生物历史,并非发生在“任何条件下”,而是发生在银河系某个特定角落的某颗特定行星的特定时间段上,而这段特定历史有着一个极其重要的背景条件:太阳以近乎恒定的速率向地球输送能量,同时,维持地球生命系统的地质和化学条件,在此期间没有遭受毁灭性的破坏。 于是我们便面临上述第二个问号:什么叫“有没有”?说“生物史方向性”,究竟是指现代生物学在理论上保证了(即无论环境条件如何)它有方向性?还是指特定生物史在事实上表现出了方向性?假如是指后一种,那么答案是显而易见的:它有着明确无疑的方向性。 这是最弱意义上的方向性,但我们还可以指望更强意义的方向性,即,地球生命史所表现出的方向性,并非偶然,而是在满足某些简单背景条件——比如有机物丰度不降低、地球能量输入不衰减,诸如此类——的前提下必定会出现。实际上,一些研究复杂系统特别是生物复杂性的科学家,已经做出了这方面的尝试,或许他们的理论尚未被生物学界主流所认可,但至少还没有什么理由认为他们的想法在理论上就是行不通的。 【复杂性可以度量吗?】 对上述见解,批评者常提出的一种反驳是:复杂性根本不是一个科学概念,它无法被度量,既然无法度量,所谓方向性也就丧失了统计基础——你连采样曲线都画不出,谈何上倾下倾? 直觉上,我们很容易接受复杂性这个概念,当我们谈论“真核细胞比原核细胞复杂、多细胞生物比单细胞生物复杂、真社会性蚂蚁巢群比蚂蚁个体复杂、一只麻雀比一条蚯蚓复杂、一只猫的头脑比一只海胆的神经系统复杂……”时,无论说者和听者,似乎都能领会复杂一词的意思,而不是茫然不知所云。 而且生物学家也确实在用各种指标比较不同类元的复杂性,比如细胞分化程度、组织/器官的数量和分化程度、行为灵活性、神经系统的规模……等等;但批评者认为,这些指标是武断挑选的,不具有客观性(甚至挑选标准可能带有人类中心主义倾向),而且既然没有一个单一指标,所谓复杂性就无法被量化。 是直觉错了吗?不是。为证明这一点,不妨设想一种复杂性的终极度量方法,称之为终极,是因为它至少目前在技术上还不可行,这只是个思想实验,用来说明:宣称复杂性不可度量是错误的。 假设我们的生物学知识已足够充分,并且拥有充足的计算资源,让我们可以对生物体进行高度逼真的数字建模,逼真程度达到:若火星人拿到某物种成熟个体的模型数据,并掌握了必要的分子生物技术,便可从小分子开始造出(注意是造出而不是培育出,因为我们假设火星不存在该物种发育所需条件)一个成熟个体,然后,若将该造物混进一群该模型所模拟的原型生物,它无法被地球生物学家辨认出来。 于是我们有了一种度量复杂性的方法:数一下这个数字模型的比特数。 有人可能会问:何必如此麻烦,直接计算遗传物质里的信息量不就行了,毕竟遗传编码本身就是数字化的啊?问题是,至少对于多细胞生物,体现其复杂性的信息不仅存在于遗传物质里,也存在于体细胞中,因为发育过程乃至整个生活史中,个体在不断从环境中“吸收”信息,表现为各体细胞的基因开关状态,和神经细胞的突触连接拓扑与强度,所以假如只计算受精卵内遗传物质的信息量,会大大低估多细胞生物的复杂度。 最高复杂度随时间而提升,体现了进化是一个积累过程;积累性表现在三个方面,首先是构造元件库的扩充,假如我们把生物个体看作一部生存繁殖机器的话,用来建造它的元件是各种适应器,适应器一旦获得,只要还在履行某种功能,自然选择就会将它保持在种系的元件库里;假如每个种系的元件库都随时间而扩充,整个生物系统的元件库也将日益庞大。 其次是自组织,每当物种获得一种新元件,便会引发一个自组织过程,因为组成有机体的其他元件会对新伙伴作出反应,并与之建立一系列相互依赖关系,这些关系不仅本身构成了有机体复杂性的一方面,而且往往使得参与其中的元件发生改变而履行新功能,从而使元件本身也变得精致化了(精致意味着包含更多信息)。 最后也最壮观的,是新结构涌现(或曰元系统跃迁,[[metasystem transition]]),新结构可以由不同物种的共生关系,或者由同物种的近亲群聚而成,这样的结构较为松散,但假如这种关系朝向平等共享复制通道的方向发展,便可能在新层次上创建出相当于单一个体的紧密结构,就像从原核细胞内共生关系中发展出的真核细胞,从类似团藻的这样近亲群聚发展出真正的多细胞生物,从松散结合的近亲蚂蚁群体发展出和单一个体一样紧密的真社会性巢群。 任何层次上的新结构涌现,皆须以存在一个庞大而丰富的下层结构为基础,后者为新结构提供了元件库,也正因此,层次更多、结构更复杂的生物,总是晚于简单生物而出现,因为它们需要等待后者变得足够丰富以便用作其构造元件。 【另一种方向性:适应性】 除了复杂性,我们还有望从地球生命史中找出另一种方向性:总的适应性水平随时间而提高。乍一看,总适应性水平这个概念似乎不可能有意义,因为自然选择作用于具体的个体或种群,因而我们只能对个体、种群或物种谈论适应性。 但实际上,总适应性(或平均适应性)这个概念是有意义的,为说明这一点,我需要引入另一个思想实验,我称之为“姐妹地球”。设想地球有一个妹妹,她在所有方面与地球完全一样,唯一的差别是:她比地球年轻两亿岁,就是说,她和地球经历了完全相同的历史,只是其历史比地球滞后了两亿年。 好,现在我们可以为“总适应性”给出一个操作性定义了:任一时刻,从两个地球各随机选取一组种群,扔到对方的相似生态位上,隔若干年后看,来自哪颗地球的移民繁殖成效高,即认为它在那一刻的总适应性更高。 因为两颗地球的姐妹性质,上述同时刻跨球比较完全等价于同球的跨时间比较,假如比较结果呈现出某种固定模式,谈论总适应性便是有意义的,假如呈现出的模式是:晚近时刻的总适应性总是高于早先时刻,那就可以说,地球生命史在总适应性上也具有方向性。 尽管我们永远没机会做这个实验,但地球生命史上其实有过一些效果近似的实验(虽然近似度不高),为我们观察总适应水平提供了一些机会。在由地理隔绝所造成的相对孤立的各生态系统之间,隐约可以看到一些评估总适应性的线索,比如生物学家发现,岛屿的生态系统往往更容易被外来物种所入侵。 另外,面积较小、土地贫瘠(因而生物量小)且长期孤绝的澳洲,相比面积更大、生物更繁盛的大陆,在抵御入侵物种时,似乎表现的更为脆弱;在全球排名前一百的入侵物种榜单上,我们看到的原产地绝大多数是欧亚美非,极少有来自澳洲或更小生态系统的。 类似的,我们也可以比较两个物种的适应性,而且方法更简单易行,比如将两个物种规模相当的种群同置于若干生态位中,若干年后,看看哪个繁殖成效更高;当然,有些物种对之间可能分不出高下(或根本放不进同一生态位),这意味着物种适应性集合是偏序的、而非全序的,但只要是偏序的,我们就不能说:物种适应性是无意义的、无法比较的。 【高级低级之分有意义吗?】 批评者对“进化”一词的另一项抱怨是:它往往和高级/低级、原始/发达、成功/失败之类的观念联系在一起,但这些概念是无意义的,因为但凡经历了自然选择考验而生存下来的物种,按定义都是最具适应性的,没有理由说一些比另一些更适应、更成功、更高级,至少这种区分在同时代的物种(或更大类元)之间是无意义的。 或者,即便有意义,那也是基于人类的特有偏见:当我们比较认知能力时,采取的是人类中心主义,比较视觉能力时,采取的是灵长类中心主义,比较运动能力时,采取的是脊椎动物中心主义……,总之,无论比较什么,我们的关注焦点总是放在从原始汤通往我们自己的那条进化路线上,其余皆被视为“旁支”而予以忽视,正是这种偏见导致了阶梯式直线进化的错误观念。 这一批评包含了许多正确成分,除了其一般结论:高级低级是无意义的。正如我已阐明的,它至少可以有一种意义:复杂性高低;而且你恐怕很难说上述对复杂性的操作性定义也是人类中心主义的。 类似的,我们也可以有意义的谈论物种(或更大类元)的成功程度,“入侵物种”这个名字其实已经暗示了这一点,还有许多指标可以用来衡量成功,比如地理上的分布广度,所占据生态位的多样性,我们甚至还有一个度量成功的终极方法:计算物种的总生物量(大约相当于其所占用的原子量),你同样很难说这种度量是人类中心主义的。 一旦我们同意这些衡量标准是客观的,那么回头再看,人类确实称得上高级和成功,站在生命之巅傲视众生的、最令人生畏的入侵物种,无疑是我们,甚至我们的小伙伴们——老鼠、猫、蟑螂——也因得到我们的提携而成了可怕的入侵物种。 【为何进步概念如此受抵制?】 自启蒙时代直到上世纪初,有关进步的观念很少受到挑战,对于落后/进步、低级/高级、原始/成熟、朴陋/发达、野蛮/文明等等词汇所表达的意思,人们多少都有着共同的领会,尽管对于什么才算进步或高级,有着许多不同看法,但至少都承认这样的区分是有意义的。 然而自从一战以来,这些概念越来越受到抵制,并逐渐被清理出人文学科、社会科学界乃至公共舆论,甚至包括像生物学这样的自然科学领域;结果是,低级、原始、野蛮之类的词汇,几乎已成为禁忌;最为讽刺的是,推动这一清理工作的主要力量,恰恰来自左派阵营中常被称为(也常自视为)进步主义的那些思想流派。 其中最突出的一股潮流,被称为文化相对主义,它源自美国的文化人类学,但其影响几乎渗入了所有人文与社会学科。在我看来,生物学界对“进化”一词的抵制,彻底否认生命历程的方向性,拒绝任何高低之分,也是上述相对主义运动的一部分。 然而,如此推向极端的相对主义,实在与常识相去太远,以至其主张者自己也难以遵行,他们一方面要求人们不要去评判其他文化的高低优劣,一方面却不遗余力的攻击基督教、西方传统和各种他们所不喜欢的社会习俗。 当然,这么做未必算是自相矛盾,比如他们可以把相对主义解释为一种元规则:不得评判一种文化,除非这一评判是指向那些“鼓励其成员对其他文化大加评判”的文化特性,那倒也可以自圆其说,问题是,他们要求人们不去评判的,往往正是具有这些特性的文化,而且评判者所针对的,也往往正是这些特性,或者导致这些特性的其他方面。 实际上,在现代文明发展起来之前,几乎所有传统文化都强烈倾向于将异种文化作为挞伐对象(无论是伦理评价上还是行动上),而这些相对主义者身处其中、被他们骂得狗血淋头的西方文明社会,恰恰是最能宽容异种文化的——从这里,你真的就看不出任何高下之分吗? 不过话说回来,尽管我拒绝相对主义,但并不认为它一无是处,它确实有助于将我们从浸淫其中因而熟视无睹的文化背景中拉出来,促使我们对自身文化特性作出反思,重新评估哪些是最值得珍视的,哪些是为在一个多元开放社会和平共处而必须加以捍卫的,哪些是出于共存的需要必需加以克制和调整的,哪些只是我们的偏好或偏见。 然而,反思的结果不必是也不应是要求我们放弃自己的文化身份和伦理立场,或者放弃我们的偏好和偏见——除非它有碍于和平共存的需要。 类似的,对“进化”的批评意见,也可促使我们反思以往对复杂性和适应性的评价,看看哪些评价是出于人类中心主义的偏见,哪些是更客观的,但这一反思不必让我们放弃因我们祖先所走过的伟大进化历程,最终让我们登上灵性之巅而带来的骄傲和荣耀。
如何说一句正确的荒唐话

【2015-06-25】

@局外人c的空间:请教:“第一,转基因的环境危害、对其他物种的侵害、对人体的潜在风险,需要很长时间才能证明。第二,别人研发的转基因,相当于在不同的族群和区域里做了标……”。 以上是否完全胡扯?

@whigzhou: 第一句本身不算错,问题是它可以原封不动的适用于任何育种方法,把转基因单拎出来说就扯蛋了

@whigzhou: 这就好比说:剖腹产生下的男孩子,需要很长时间的观察,才能确信是否会变成另一个希特勒。(more...)

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【2015-06-25】 @局外人c的空间:请教:“第一,转基因的环境危害、对其他物种的侵害、对人体的潜在风险,需要很长时间才能证明。第二,别人研发的转基因,相当于在不同的族群和区域里做了标……”。 以上是否完全胡扯? @whigzhou: 第一句本身不算错,问题是它可以原封不动的适用于任何育种方法,把转基因单拎出来说就扯蛋了 @whigzhou: 这就好比说:剖腹产生下的男孩子,需要很长时间的观察,才能确信是否会变成另一个希特勒。嗯,确实没错。 @whigzhou: 类似的,我可以在大街上随便找个男人,对他说:“昨晚你老婆没来陪我睡觉”,这几乎肯定是句正确的话  
Extreme Nativism

The Stuff of Thought》(第三章)

Pinker对Fodor的批评有个致命的漏洞,尽管Fodor的理论(按Pinker的表述,我不确定是否准确)无疑是荒唐的,而且Pinker的替代观点也很可能是对的(但依我看其有效性最多适用于动词,而不大可能适用于名词),但他的论证逻辑有缺陷。

Pinker将Fodor的Extreme Nativism归结为(或许只是个稻草人):
1)简单动词(相对于复合动词)是原子化的,不可还原的;这意味着——
2)所有简单动词都有着与之一一对应的神经结构;
3)因为这些神经(more...)

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5557
The Stuff of Thought》(第三章) Pinker对Fodor的批评有个致命的漏洞,尽管Fodor的理论(按Pinker的表述,我不确定是否准确)无疑是荒唐的,而且Pinker的替代观点也很可能是对的(但依我看其有效性最多适用于动词,而不大可能适用于名词),但他的论证逻辑有缺陷。 Pinker将Fodor的Extreme Nativism归结为(或许只是个稻草人): 1)简单动词(相对于复合动词)是原子化的,不可还原的;这意味着—— 2)所有简单动词都有着与之一一对应的神经结构; 3)因为这些神经结构是不可还原的,因而也是先天的; 而Pinker的批评逻辑是: 1)简单动词的语法特性可以被归结为一组比它们更基础的、数量也少得多的概念; 2)因而简单动词是可还原的; 3)因而每个简单动词不必对应一个先天神经结构; “五六千个简单动词都每个对应着一个先天神经结构”——这显然是太过疯狂的假定,问题是—— 1)动词的语法特性(乃至一部分语义特性)可以被还原为更基础的概念,并不意味着它们在语义上也可以被彻底还原到这些基础概念,完全有可能,它们的部分语义成分就是无法还原的——或者说,任何此类还原努力总是信息有损的,其完整语义只能由其与其他词汇之间的全部关系来表达——这便意味着它们是原子的; 2)原子性或不可还原性,只要求它们每个都对应一个独特的神经结构,那不必是先天的; 3)这一独特神经结构中,可以包括Pinker所指出的那些语法特性,即,它们与一组基础概念之间的关系,但同样也可以包括它们与其他动词和名词之间的语义关系(而非语法关系); 4)只要去掉先天性这一要求,Fodor的理论就看不出任何荒谬之处,完全可能成立。