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Human Nature and Behavior

by Alfred de Grazia



Speech is the favorite among the traits said to mark the human being. "The chain of nucleosynthetic evolution.. breaks over the derivation of language," T. A. Wertime writes. To speak and understand "marks the crucial breach in the symbiosis of primate and nature, the onset of contrivance and 'sin'. '' [1] Language breaks the instinctive bond between man and nature and sets man free in a maelstrom of delusions. Other species are outdistanced in the race to set up communication systems, but still their achievements limit the human claims.

Speech is systematic symbolism. Symbolism characterizes all outputs and effects of human behavior. Whether we grow crops, organize business, or sell books, what we do has symbolic origins and is conducted by and amidst symbols, and deals with symbolized things. The final form of much human output is largely symbolic, as with scientific, technical, and ordinary discourse, also with art, some myth, and a part of religion and magic. Ernst Dichter, a well-known human relations consultant, produced for the use of manufacturers and advertisers an encyclopedia devoted to the Psychological connotations of a great many industrial designs [2] .

Human speech, language, the 'vox humana' does not consist of written words. The written word is merely a representation of speech in another (and more constraining) medium – a further level of symbolism, since language itself is a set of symbols for concepts which themselves correspond but poorly to external reality. Language is a code of a code; writing is a code of this code of a code [3] .

I quote this out of a personal letter from the linguist Malcolm Lowery.


Not to be excluded from symbolism are graphic codes, signs, marks on trees and stones, sacred paths and benchmarks, routes among the stars, and very many other human productions. All are sent and received as symbols. Illusions are symbols inasmuch as non-existent objects or facets of objects present themselves significantly to the brain, standing for something else.

Studies of American Sign Language, a system imparted to the deaf and employed by the deaf, sometimes by the deaf to the deaf, establish "the fact that to be a medium capable of expressing the full range of human intentions language need not be spoken. It is the human brain, not the mouth or the larynx that makes language possible. ASL is a complete language." [4] Wit, humor, poetry and song are within the capabilities of sign language.

Hence, language without speech is possible. Signals (smoke or flags), gestures (deaf mutes), whistling (cf. Harpo Marx), and writing (letter, romances) are alternative modes of communication. So is pantomime. This would suggest that speech is not the "cause" of language, but that language prompts speech and other means of communication.

Eric H. Lenneberg shows that at the age of 21-37 months the age of "acquisition of language," the "right hemisphere can easily adopt sole responsibility for language and language appears to involve the entire brain.. though the left hemisphere is beginning to become dominant toward the end of the period." [5] By the age of fourteen language is markedly left-lateralized, irreversibly. I conclude that the internal language code is first set up; then the physico-motor apparatus and left-brain dominance usurp language for external and public behavior.

The road is clear, then to consider whether self-speech may prompt public speech, admitting that public speech may govern self-speech to a degree. Or, more appropriately, we should assert that self-symboling prompts public symbolism.


Speech occurs similarly in all humans: sound waves are made by muscles and tubes, and consist of phonemes (vowels and consonants, etc.), combining into morphemes (e. g. words), which acquire a morphology (sentences, etc.) and broader levels of syntactical patterning – the whole largely unconscious except on the superficial level of the "spelling bee."

No specific speech center occurs in the brain, a fact of large significance: there is no speech organ, no lobe, no sign of an organic mutation, no high density concentration, no neural bunch, no exclusive territory. Speech is controlled from a large cortical area extending from just in front of the visual area, across the auditory to the edge of the motor region. The area can be tested functionally in the left hemisphere for the right-handed person, and in the right for the left-handed.

The tongue and larynx have muscles and the brain accords them special motor areas. The area for the tongue is much larger than for the whole leg, one more instance of the dye-economy, or at least "indifference" of "nature," assigning to the "less important" a large housing while the more worthy tenant sleeps wherever he can. The whole central nervous system supplies the messages that are framed by the lips and tongue.

The chimpanzee enjoys no such grandeur, says Ralph Gerard, "I strongly suspect that you could not teach a chimpanzee to speak chimpanzee, let alone English, because he doesn't have large enough areas for his tongue and his larynx. '' [6]

We are not convinced: an ape can make several distinct sounds, say six; this would allow about 26 or 128 unrepetitive combined sounds, many more if repetitive, viz., "hubba, hubba."

Attacking the assertion of one pongid researcher, that "language is no longer the exclusive domain of man," one group of scientists has concluded from its study of a chimpanzee called "Nim," and an analysis of other pongid and infant studies, that an "apes's language is severely restricted. Apes can learn many isolated symbols (as can dogs, horses, and other non human species), but they show no unequivocal evidence of mastering the conversational semantic, or syntactic organization of language." [7]

But all this is not because of a lack of tongue-motor. The brain stores, exercises as memories, and emits signals according to its history. What is used is banked and what is not used has no bank account to draw upon. If apes cannot talk, it is not because of a lack of these evanescent motor centers of the cortex. Nor is it because the brains of apes are too small. Fluency of speech is not correlated with brain size in humans, with a span of difference of hundreds of cubic centimeters, as much as one fourth. For that matter, the human brain is largely disused, so an ape ought to have brain-room for talking, even if only "small talk." The chimpanzee also has space for data storage in his brain, beyond motor areas. Nor are apes untrainable, witness the responses obtained by dedicated keepers over a period of time; they can be made to imitate man closely. Yet, as claimed above, very little speech ensues.

Is it then that the ape does not want to talk? Yes, that hits at the central problem. There is not enough internal conflict in the primate to "justify" the installation of a symbol and signal system. Even if it were to be, or has been partially installed, the animal is not schizoid enough to levy continuous demands upon the system, and it deteriorates from desuetude. George Miller says, agreeably, that "talking and understanding language do not depend on being intelligent or having a large brain. They depend on 'being human'." [8] So long as the source of human nature cannot be pinpointed, it is well to put "being human" in quotation marks. But I think that we shall no longer be required to do so. Perhaps to get apes to talk, infant apes must be first neuroticized by continuous injections of chemical sensory excitants and neurotransmitter depressants.


Monod (1971) maintains that the instructions for building human language may be contained in the genetic code. If so, the instructions are probably not complicated, as we shall explain. Writers are verging towards the concept of outer language being the language also of inner thought. Johnson writes:

Although it must be recognized that language is not the only tool of thought, for we have unconscious thinking as well, it remains true that most of the mental processes of humans actually use verbal symbols as stimuli for nonverbal responses. Inner speech is produced, and it can be used as an instrument of rational processes such as voluntary movements. Herrick (1956) states: 'l repeat my conviction that some form of symbolism is requisite and that without the invention of language symbols the human type of mentation is impossible [9] .

Schizophrenic patients show a profound intuitive understanding of symbolism while trampling the rules of grammar. Otto Fenichel holds that their symbolism is not a tactic of distortion but an archaic form of thinking, thinking by metaphor, we would say. The right hemisphere can assemble word forms by itself, when cut off from direct communication with the language apparatus of the left brain; this would only confirm the residue in both brain hemispheres of the bilateral primate ability to utter a variety of sounds. The chimpanzee can use words, if strongly trained to do so; one of them, Washoe, used veritable sign language, derived from American Sign Language, leading Pribram to say that "primates can construct and communicate by signs, context-free, consistent attributes of a situation which are discriminated and recognized." [10]

In accordance with the theory of human Hologenesis, to be advanced later, and in striking coincidence with the philosophy of pragmatism, we can argue that language is thought, and thought is language. What happens interpersonally also happens intrapersonally. Since, as we have just argued, the brain treats "inner" and "outer" indiscriminately in relevant ways, the brain may actually employ language without discrimination as to the location of its referents. The infant babbles; a year later he utters a "word", that is, a reference that outsiders can comprehend. Whether one is talking to an audience or talking to oneself may be a reference that is learned. It is within the ken of many people to hear a victim of trauma – an exhausted survivor, a tired soldier, a mourning widow – range back and forth from talking to the outsiders to talking to oneself and to "insiders" of the self.

Black (1971) has reviewed recent work which demonstrates that hallucinated words and sounds can affect the EEG [electroencephalogram]. The normal production of alpha waves are changed by such experiments, and evoked potentials are altered in hallucinating situations. The conclusion was that the EEG responds in a manner which demonstrates that hallucinatory material is processed as a reality to the nervous system just as any other phenomenon might be perceived [11] .

And again:

It is a fact that Gould (1948, 1949) used a stethoscope to listen to the hallucinated inner speech of a patient. The externalized sounds can be heard when the instrument is placed in front of the patient's mouth, and normal speech can be heard at the larynx [12] .

It is suggested that inner thought forms itself as a neural network of neutral references among cerebral engrams (gestalts, holograms). Consequently the network itself becomes a code for interaction among the references. That is, the holograms are indexed, or given names; then grammar becomes the rules for drawing upon the names. The basic linguistic expressions, such as: "Dogs fear men"; "Gods exist"; "Go away"; "Spring will return"; are references to a key set of holograms engaging the attention to expectations based upon their summated behaviors, to egocentric wishes that can be couched as demands or "laws of nature." The "decision" to employ sound for language is partly unconscious and habitual, since sound is an old underemployed facility, and then an invention. Sounds can readily be correlated with the thought code. Silent speech connects with the speech motor system and springs outward, with striking effects. The outer world responds to the degree that it is human, or it seems to respond. Furthermore, experientially, the world responds to the thought rather well than badly. What begins as ejaculations, develops into propaganda, and propaganda in turn becomes principles – ethical and scientific. The language changes by feedback and alteration. Meanwhile, the patterned object of the grammar becomes himself a subject, if single, and a game between two subject-objects produces a "universe of discourse." Consensus on words and syntax develops. What happens "outside" happens "inside": the code one uses internally is never much different from the language used in dealing with the world. The private language of schizophrenics or anybody is merely a paranoic secret like the "Pig Latin" of children within hearing distance of their guardians.

If displacements are infinite, so are codewords for them; indeed, the wide variety of displacements determines the scope of the language. Economically, efficiently, quickly, energy-conserving: language proceeds. The words need be very few to refer to everything and all the interactions among them. A half-century after Shakespeare's niagara of words, Racine's 1000 words and even less were deemed adequate to say everything in French, and for a long time thereafter anyone inclined to be more verbose, at least in tragedy, was obsessively resisted.


What produces systematic symboling in the human? The elements of the process are self-dispersion, anxiety, self-collection, coding, metaphor, and algebra. There is a sequence in all of this, but it happens so quickly and continuously, and with so much overlapping, that it is misleading to make neat phrases. Of self-dispersion, anxiety, and self-collection we have already spoken. The self, split by instinct delays that scramble the ego, undergoes heavy anxiety, and strives for reinstinctualization or any other forms of what is hoped will be self-control. For this purpose, it ranges through the world and time by its techniques of displacement, lodging everywhere but then having to control these lodgments, too [13] . The displacements do not enter the brain pell-mell and without discrimination. The impulse that identifies them in the first place is motivated. A displacement must belong to a realm of control associations; it is metaphorical. The brain codes it by an ever-so-slight but significant tag so that it resolves into a data bank whence a codesymbol can retrieve it. If it is to be used to characterize an individual thing, it is pulled out in its entirety, sign upon sign, until it becomes a vivid picture. If it is to be used as part of a category, it is retrieved more or less as a naked index reference. As Benjamin Whorf once said, no word has a precise meaning. Mathematicians hate to admit it, but no mathematical symbol or arithmetic number has a precise meaning, either.

The poly-selves are pocketed or diffused all over the brain, the body, and the outer world, including the past; the poly-self is in millions of places, a shepherd, or better, lead sheep, of a gigantic flock. Wherever and whenever perceived, they return, finding their coded abodes and reinforcing their electrobiochemical walls. Given the strength of the major ego components, the selves or roles, the coded items are not randomly distributed in the brain, but aggregate according to an abstract hierarchical classification item. If this seems like a metaphor of the rational human operation of classifying subjects, the metaphor is reversed; I would conjecture that the external work of classification in every walk of life derives from an intuitively perceived basic classifying going on naturally in the brain; man is imitating his internal central nervous system operations, just as he copies, often subconsciously, his legs, musculature, eyes and other parts of the body in designing tools.

The permutations and combinations of the stored and coded material are practically infinite. The coded item which is both an abstraction and a metaphor, is "willed" to collect a sentence. (By "will," here, let us mean the set of determinants representing past operations which now demand a new operation.) The brain performs its algebra, imitating itself, and then speaks the presumably understandable words to the communicant. The algebra is simple, such as a/ b; c/ d; a= b, or a= c, or a-b = c. After all, once the wish is present and the analogues are retrieved, what still needs to be said can be formulated according to a few basic functions. Formal characteristics of the statements are not required, nor are verbs and nouns, nor singular and plural, etc.; languages have varying codes for these; they produce interesting ideological configurations in their speakers but are probably not of essential importance in creating sub-classes of human nature.

Description, interrogation, demand: these three may suffice. Basically the mind works with such statements, putting into them the information bits supplied or wanted. "Fence-sitting tobacco-chewing man;" "name?" "Down, John." The first is additive of qualities, but could be of quantities; then comes the specification of an unknown blank in the "man" code data bank; finally an attempt to impose one's will.

The public words needed are the question of the name, the name "John," and the command "down!" Really, only the command is needed if the intent (and power) are clear. Even a glance would suffice, if the John had been half-trained not to sit on the fence. But the little that needs be uttered hardly represents the internal processing, very rapid speech signifies a disturbing problem, not that a speaker can talk as rapidly as he can think; this is an impossible feat, though listeners tend to correlate the two.

Noam Chomsky was probably on the trail of such facts when he foresaw the road that linguistics was taking.

Contemporary work has finally begun to face some simple facts of language that have been long neglected, for example, the fact that the speaker of a language knows a great deal that he has not learned and that his normal linguistic behavior cannot possibly be accounted for in terms of "stimulus control," "conditioning," "generalization and analogy," "patterns," and "habit structures," or "dispositions to respond," in any reasonably clear sense of these much abused terms [14] .

Also, "The speaker has learned his art by internal processing." Ernst Cassirer discussed the case of Laura Bridgeman, who was a deaf, dumb and blind child. She made distinctive sounds for people she knew, when she encountered them. Later on, like Helen Keller, she was delighted to discover that various objective (external) community names for things and people existed. Both girls wanted immediately to learn the name of everything [15] . This fact supports the theory of Homo Schizo 1, that language, like culture as a whole, was hologenetic with the first humans.

Many more coded messages are circulating interiorly than find their way into vocal utterance. They are of the same kind. The most brilliant and learned voices play upon these simple themes, so that we may follow for a considerable distance those students who have reduced brainwork to an immense computer, only we say, as we shall again in the next chapter, that a combined analog and digital computer is at work. Further, the computer invention is an intuited imitation of human ratiocination. The computerized robot is man's high hope for recapturing his primate instinctive behavior.


Symbolism is a neurological network set up to cope with the polyego predicament. Talking with oneself is not to be separated etiologically from talking with others. Basically, the same motives and the same sensory maneuvers are implicated, with the same basic effects.

Once again, we encounter the hysteron proteron phenomenon, a normal logical delusion: it is believed that language is a social achievement enabling people who are apart to exchange meaningful messages, and, further, that these messages are sometimes initiated by the insane to talk to themselves.

Instead, language develops as a solipsistic and holistic control of inner and "outer" messages. Without the compulsion to talk to ourselves, we would not talk to others. The outer messages are still messages to ourselves; the selves in this case are the identified, displaced objects outside of our bodies. And the aim of the outer-directed messages is to control the outer world. Carl Jung stressed the psychological difference between extroverts and introverts. Certainly the consequences of inward as opposed to outward displacement-biases are many and important for analysis and therapy. No doubt the human race can be divided into the two groupings. But both groupings derive their existence from the same, more basic human polyego origins of speech and the dilemmas of choosing internal as against external modes of polyego integration. The greatest and most urgent need of the poly-self is to "put one's house in order," part of which task, because of the excessive and demanding fear, is delegated to outside persons and objects.

The feedback is extensive and compelling. The only way, or at least the best way, to control the world outside the body is to communicate with it, and the most effective mode of communication is by code or symbol, and to control by symbolism requires accepting a common medium of exchange, signs and words which prompt external behavior that reduces the anxiety of the person.

The solipsistic origins of the language are clearer in an oral culture. Writing assures the objectification and authority of language; it takes people out of themselves and helps to delude them into believing that they are not talking to themselves. Thus, writing disciplines and socializes the people, taking up a centralized responsibility for their fear therapy and not permitting them to go too far towards anarchic solutions. The origins of the alphabet, proclaimed among the greatest of inventions and originating, says Santillana, from astronomy and games, shows a great capacity to generalize from observation (hearing sounds, especially). Thus 20 or 30 letters are given the task of abstracting all speech. Pictograph and syllabic writing employed symbols much more extensively, revealing a lesser application of the human power of generalization.

A schizophrenic patient often invents "outer" language, swinging his clever symbolic manipulations of his dissociated egos to others, usually to ill effect, so far as his controlling them is conceived, but in certain cases, as when he "speaks in tongues," actually converting others to his will. The typical internal struggle to accommodate one's egos often requires relinquishing attempts at controlling the outer world by the language that the "egos" understand: first things first.

F. de Saussure distinguished general language from speech, which is uniquely individual, like a fingerprint of structure and content. No two people speak alike. Each person has his own code, but the codes are forced together by the felt need to communicate on the part of both individual and group [16] .


Emperor Frederick II of Sicily, Holy Roman Emperor, yclept "Stupor Mundi," set up in the 1300's a nursery of neonates attended by mutes, to discover from their untutored babbling how the original natural human tongue might have developed. The infants died from various causes before they could arrive at speech. As with experiments to isolate existential fear, experiments to discover the origins of speech are difficult to contrive. Psamtik I of Egypt tried a similar experiment two thousand years earlier, and James IV of Scotland also did so two centuries later. And there now is a humanistic topic for a master's degree in educational psychology. Lingua Adamica, it came to be called, whatever it might be.

Cultural agents teach the infant a language. The discipline is severe, rewards and penalties are numerous: "Speak our language or not at all." Teachers of immigrant children recognize this dilemma; children sometimes stop talking altogether. Exceptions occur privately, in dreams. 'Mad poets' can speak differently. So can scientists. Drunks can babble. Religiously-inspired persons can "speak in tongues" unknown. We can learn other languages, best when very young and the process is approved by our attendants.

It is not uncommon of old people, who have practiced a second language, an accent, a dialect or a jargon to perfection during their lives, to relapse in their final months into their infant and childhood language. The reason may be not that they performed best in their original language, or that the memory traces of the original words in themselves were more deeply imprinted, but rather that they established their poly-ego system and its embedded network in the earliest years of life. The strength of their original tongue is in fact the strength of their ultimate ego defenses, holding together against the dissociations brought about by the erosion of approaching death.

Feral children do not speak a language, but can learn one very slowly. Some pygmy tribes are said to possess no pygmy language, but to speak the language of nonpygmy tribes with whom they associate, giving it a special accent of their own to the speech that makes their tongue incomprehensible to outsiders.

Kester in his book on Upper Paleolithic language sees six basic roots in all languages and finds thousands of analogous idea-centered words surrounding each root [17] . The roots are ha, all, tat, os, acq, and tag. I agree with Lowery, who, in an unpublished manuscript, asserts that Kester has not succeeded.

Nor probably did Cohane in his book, The Key, where several sacred root words such as have, og, ash, and her were pursued into hundreds of presumably derivative geographical sites around the world. Yet 1 have been long in sympathy with Whorf, who in a fellowship application to the Social Science Research Council, in 1928, talks of "restoring a possible common language of the human race or in perfecting an ideal natural tongue.. perhaps a future common speech into which all our varied languages may be assimilable, or, putting it differently, to whose terminology or.. to whose terms they may all be reduced." [18]

There is a question of course as to whose code, whose exclamation would be authoritative for any given object, but the primordial scenario, which I portray in Homo Schizo I, has only siblings or mother and offspring as the communicators, and we must suspect authority in the second case to be in the mother and in the case of the siblings the same authoritative situation as arises in a gang of children coining new and secret words at "play." Language is essentially symbolism, a code that shortens inner and outer communication in respect to economy and speed of transmission. More plausibly than not, it may be maintained that whenever and wherever homo schizo originated, he spoke one language and it is from this language that all subsequent ones have descended. We may also premise that, in the beginning, descriptive epithets (Great Zeus !) were ejaculated and a vocabulary of names that included the state of the object grew rapidly until every displacement was given a name. In part simultaneously, the equal sign of the "is" was generated, with its opposite, the "is not," and sentences began.

Little else need be said here: speech is basically an agreed-upon code referring to classes of objects and to their losing or gaining qualities. "Dog is wolf not wild;" "Sun is not, Moon is." But one cannot imagine a simple vocabulary and syntax enduring even for a few years. Nor can we imagine new features being deliberately invented. Language came in a rush – originated spontaneously, says Levi-Strauss. It was a cultural and organic quantavolution. Why should the first speakers stop at one or one hundred words, as if they were apes in training? There were, as I speculated in Chapter Two, impelled by the breakdown of the instinctive mammalian ego to busy themselves with coding inner communications and outer communications to their outflowing identifications.

Genera and families of language in the world are few, but derivative languages, comprehended by outsiders only with much learning, number in the thousands. It has been estimated that at the time when Columbus arrived in America some 2000 distinct languages were in use. Europe is dominated by Latin, Germanic and Slavic tongues with many national and sub-national derivatives. The North African littoral speaks Arabic, while in Central Africa hundreds of diverse languages are spoken. We do not know what produces many tongues and what causes a single speech to prevail without much change over a long period of time.

All effort is made to discipline people to a common tongue; yet languages ramify profusely. As propellants of divergences in speech among groups once linguistically united, several factors can be imagined on the basis of instances from history. Physical or social isolation is a necessary basis for most, if not all, cases of linguistic divergence. Movements of population with the associated ecological change promotes new terms and disuse of old ones. Differential increments of new technology add new postures towards linguistic content and style. Partial incorporation of the language of groups newly encountered, whether as subjects of conquest or as conquerors, is often a factor.

Religious divergence is especially important when disasters of various kinds occur, focusing intense attention on new sacred beings of the world and all objects and relations supposedly touched by their holy hands. The practice of tactical secrecy, at first in sub-groups, then in dominating groups accompanying the fragmentation by violence or politics of the principal group, must also be considered.

Memory failures, collective amnesia, accompanying abrupt splits of human groups regardless of the source, can select and discriminate vocabulary, style and usages. Conflict, competition, accompanied by hostility, snobbery, and "trade secrets" can accelerate linguistic divergence as well. Most divergence is unconsciously generated; a little is deliberate.

Without a chronology, which is rarely discoverable, one cannot tell time by divergence, because the aforesaid causes may be quantavolutional or uniformitarian. The Australian dog, the dingo, is thought to have arrived 7000 years ago, but all tribes have special names for it [19] . The multitude of American tongues might have occurred in 12,000 years, or in much less or more time. Nor do we yet know how many languages were extinguished during the period, or whether the full impetus to change affected a single Asian mother tongue or also other Asian along with some proto-American tongues that preceded the conjectured recent invasions via the Bering Straits.

We would stress that languages can be constructed rapidly. In a few years, a youthful cohort aged thirteen to nineteen, granted libertarian linguistic practices, can fabricate an argot that is incomprehensible to the general society. The extent of the divergence and the rapidity of change are partially concealed because the argot is discouraged in youth-to-adult contacts and the written media go their own way linguistically. Charles Morris describes the various special languages of political, poetic, bureaucratic, religious, and other cultures in his book on Signs, Language and Behavior. Zvi Rix points out [20] that "the accurate placing of by-gone happenings on the time-coordinate is the precondition for the understanding of reality. Reduction or loss of the time-component (i. e. flattening the four dimensional space-time universe into our less plastic three dimensional world) leads by consequence to misconceptions and delusions of paranoic character." It can lead to other forms of schizotypicality. The Hopi, for example, who are said by Whorf to lack a word for time, are said by him and others to have a global immediate consciousness that would be regarded as abnormal if encountered by a Euro-American.

That is, we are under the influence of symbols but we do not know their origins and time of origination. Note how the invention of new words and language are attempts to get us out from under the influence of old behavior and ideology, while the opposition to new words and language is a conservative attempt, knowingly or unconsciously, to keep us under the influence of ancient symbols.

It matters not what is the elapsed time since the generation of a language, in judging its sophistication. Languages, like cultures, may be tribal, but they are never primitive. No scholar has yet advanced a viable method of differentiating old from young languages, or developed from undeveloped, this despite the availability of such recent historical models as Italian-Latin and American-English. Much less has anyone been able to demonstrate the primitivity or even the irrationality (except in missing technological terms) of a language. "Many American Indian and African languages," declares Whorf, "abound in finely wrought, beautifully logical discriminations about causation, action, result, dynamic or energic quality, directness of experience, etc., all matters of the function of thinking, indeed the quintessence of the rational. In this respect they far outdistance the European languages." [21]


We return now to the internal constitution of language. Language is useful in the animal-work of humans, as in hunting, growing, working, cooperating, and also in the displacement labors of worshiping and sacrificing. Still, language does not exist for these purposes. It exists as an internal message center. We note how words come out in a flood from a "quiet child;" the child has been talking to itself and belatedly concedes that it will have to talk to others. I think that in the behavior of Kamala, the Indian wolf-girl, who took years to emit words and then progressed rapidly [22] , one can detect an inner speech, just as in mental patients who refuse to speak but who can be heard to talk to themselves, even their speech-muscles and EEGs betraying the fact.

The utility of internal speech can be identified as a message exchange in lieu of a missing automatism. A machine that is set to imitate a perfect animal, which receives and responds to stimuli undeviatingly, does not need a language. But the human mind is out of control and messages have to be sent throughout and back and forth in much greater volume than in the animal. The flock that is scattered everywhere has to be gathered. "Instead of dealing with things themselves, man is in a sense constantly conversing with himself," said Ernst Cassirer [23] .

Inner language is not identical with outer language. A mad person may abandon society to control his selves, speaking a "disordered" language, which must bear significantly upon his struggle for self-organization. He does not care whether his speech helps others to coordinate the world. The effort seems not to be worthwhile; he is demoralized because he is depersonalized. If you cannot speak the language, you cannot be a citizen; and vice versa, in a radical double meaning.

Working inside the social system, there is leeway to use a broader and richer language, still recognizable but suspect by those who control the system. The language of politics and power is normally barren; cliches abound; conventional images are recommended in rhetoric. As is true of language and culture so with language and politics: each can stupefy the other. But collective enterprises cannot move without rules, and rules, including language, stupefy. They do so insolently, too, and arrogantly, because connected with power and unconscious of their roots.


What appears as speech is a voiced code shared by the speakers. The silent or unexpressed language is both the full code and the key to the voiced code. When Whorf says that the voiced code represents an ideology or weltanschauung that is peculiar to its speakers, he may be criticized for comparing the overt results of linguistic expression of two or more peoples. This enables them to assert a more marked difference between humans than may be the actual case.

As Whorf and kindred scholars have established, a group's spoken language, properly studied, reveals many affinities, more or less cryptic, with the special outlook of this group on the world. Call this "the overt linguistic ideology." But now Whorf may be making too much of what is spoken. First, he assumes a mirroring of the overt language by the covert language of thought, especially since he can decipher subtle aspects of the logic of the speech. However, the covert language may contain precisely those elements of thinking seemingly absent in speech. Seen from the surface, a flounder is a brown fish with eyes; seen from the sand it is a white fish with a mouth. But it is a fish like other fish in most significant respects.

If this is so, then the many linguistic groups may not represent such profound ideological differences as Whorf maintains. What surfaces as speech, that is, may be phenotypical and the genotype may be even universal. This condition, if real, has much importance for our theory of human nature. Put bluntly, "Man thinks the same everywhere, but you'd never know it to hear him talk."

Whence, to appraise Whorf's original contribution, we would say, "Yes, the language that surfaces limits what can be readily communicated. Yes, the surface language, properly analyzed, shows many connections with the internal thinking processes. Yes, the surface language plus its discoverable connections with the subsurface language gives an operating distinction between two languages that can be called an ideological divergence. Yes, too, although Whorf does not digress upon it, gestures, timbre, amplification, inflections, posture in speaking, and facial expressions are part of linguistic communication, and can distinguish speakers, even of the same language; Marlene Dietrich did not speak the same German as Hitler.

But no, now, these subliminal linguistic ideologies are not the human ideology; they are not basic. Language, linguistic analysis, even Whorf's penetrating analysis, does not mirror human nature. It is not the key to open all doors. The whole study of human behavior, human action, is the master key. Language, as a portion of behavior, deserves its place. If we were to bring together two strangers and they were urged not to speak, write or use conventional gesture, that is, forbidden to symbolize conventionally, they would begin to communicate by actions and imitations; emotional expressions, perhaps touching, would play a role. They would be almost incapacitated in the beginning but their activity would soon graduate into a new symbolism, and before long a common discourse would unite them. Perhaps some such mode of arriving at a universal language is better than the Basic English that Whorf so trenchantly criticizes for being so very English.

Language, Whorf properly insisted, is not merely a technique of expression, but ''first of all is a classification and arrangement of the stream of sensory experience which results in a certain world-order, a certain segment of the world that is easily expressible by the type of symbolic means which the language employs." [24]

For instance, "the Hopi language contains no reference to 'time, ' either explicit or implicit." Yet the Hopi "equally account for all phenomena and their interrelations, and lend themselves even better to the integration of Hopi culture in all its phases."

The Hopi language is rich in verbs and verb forms (but not tenses) whereas the Etruscan language prefers nouns. "Most metaphysical words in Hopi are verbs, not nouns.." Whorf finds the Hopi possess two "grand cosmic forms," the objective and subjective, or the manifested and manifesting [25] . I would venture that these resemble the ancient Greek notions of Being and Becoming: whatever exists, is material, and what is historical must be distinguished from what does not exist (or is on its way), is subjective and is in the future.

A most impressive feature of Whorf's analysis of languages is his demonstration (which I am extending logically) that languages can be graded according to how much of the logic and philosophy of the users is buried in the language as opposed to how much must be added in speech [26] . Whorf regards "thinking as the function which is to a large extent linguistic." Then, "silent thinking is basically not suppressed talking or inaudibly mumbled words or silent laryngeal agitations..." It is the "rapport between words, which enables them to work together at all to any semantic result." [27] These are neural processes (Whorf makes an unsatisfactory distinction between motor and non-motor processes in order to get rid of the 'mumbling' and agitations) that are, "of their nature, in a state of linkage according to the structure of a particular language, and activations of these processes and linkages in any way, with, without, or aside from laryngeal behavior... are all linguistic patterning operations, and all entitled to be called thinking."

He writes, later on, "Every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which the personality not only communicates, but also analyzes nature, notices or neglects types of relationship and phenomena, channels his reasoning, and builds the house of his consciousness." [28]

Whorf takes pain to elucidate that "in linguistic and mental phenomena, significant behavior... are ruled by a specific system or organization, a 'geometry' of form principles characteristic of each language. This organization is imposed from outside the narrow circle of the personal consciousness, making of that consciousness a mere puppet whose linguistic maneuverings are held in unsensed and unbreakable bonds of pattern." [29] And he insists that the savant and the shepherd are bound alike in the toils of their mother tongue.

Actually when we reach the pith of Whorf's message, it is that different linguistic groups express the same idea in different ways. And these different ways expose the falsity of thinking of language in its acceptable European form. But this is what we have been waiting for. We have now a genius in linguistic analysis to tell us that the same basic process is occurring, but is independent of our logical, grammatical, syntactical forms.

Speech does not determine psychology, but the psyche finds many ways of expressing itself. There are many codes. They arrive at similar ends. To take an example from Whorf: in English, it may be said: "He invites people to a feast." In the Nootka Amerindian speech, a long word says: "Boiling - cooked - eating - ers - he goes for." (tl'mishya/ is/ ita - 'ill - ma) [30] . But the English-speaking poet can say: "Boil-feasters he invites," or "Feasters he fetches." I am sure that the Nootka word sounds no more one than the English words when these are rattled off.

Whorf in several essays adverts briefly to the

schemes like Basic English, in which an eviscerated British English, with its concealed premises working harder than ever, is to be fobbed off on an unsuspecting world as the substance of pure Reason itself. We handle even our plain English with much greater effect if we direct it from the vantage point of a multilingual awareness... Western culture has made, through language, a provisional analysis of reality and, without correctives, holds resolutely to that analysis as final. The only correctives lie in all those other tongues which by aeons of independent evolution have arrived at different, but equally logical, provisonal analyses [31] .

Whorf would seem here to reach backwards for a larger truth than linguistic-thought-relativism, namely: a language whose practitioners are acutely self-aware and ingenious can be coaxed into ways of speaking that are like those of any other language. Is this not what occurs, actually, when an English dialect becomes after some time an American dialect, reflecting a new ideology and lifestyle? And what occurs when a science takes hold of its mother-tongue and reflects and creates a new logic, an ideology and philosophy with it?

The tasks of logicians, poets, and anthropological linguists should center, then, upon the interpretation of naturally emergent speech, upon what a culture does to it, upon what it does to the culture, and how cultures interact through speech.

Language is here regarded as an immediate, primary function and manifestation of human nature. It is not, as often portrayed, a sort of luxury that the mind resorts to after its job of running itself is completed and it wants to communicate with its fellows. One should avoid the grand conceit that humans have a natural, built-in, realistic, and rational way of dealing with themselves and their environment, despite occasional vagaries.

What is rational is not to be demeaned. There is a pragmatism of the human that extends to his speech. It begins with the kind of problem-solving that besets and befits a dog or ape. The primordial needs of food, warmth, security, defense, and sex are addressed in recognizably mammalian ways. But, quickly, lacking the instinctive definitiveness that turns one to a tunnel-like solution or none at all, the human shifts first to a schizophrenic state and then into a process of trial and error, retrial, and possible success. He requires a computer that stores, retrieves and manipulates data, and so copes with these problems in linguistic form. This is the most rational level of which the human being is capable. Here he fixes his mind as closely as possible upon the strict requirements of life as he views them.

But this is the farthest development from his born condition, the "buzzing and confusion" of William James' famous description of the infant mind. He has to pass through all the symptoms of madness before arriving at this accommodation, the closest to instinctual as he can ever be. His heads are pressed together by a culture and by the exercise of the structures dealt with in this chapter, along with cultural specifications. Between the animal and the pragmatic is the natural level of homo schizo, resisting and unmaking and remaking the animal and the pragmatic in the vicissitudes of life as homo schizo.

And, if the world is ever to be united in mind, it will be partly owing to a new language, in our sense a rational language, fashioned to its goal. The history of rational languages begins, like most scientific history, with a mistake. Thus one John Wilkins laboriously constructed, saved from the flames of the Great London Fire, and finally published in 1668 a treatise Towards a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, wherein for example, the word "salmon" becomes the word "zana," a river fish with scales and reddish flesh. Jorge Luis Borges wrote recently about his brilliant, advanced ideas.

The socialists and communists, following Karl Marx, produced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a handful of words and slogans that dissidents of many countries might share, feeling that they spoke a common tongue. It is not technically beyond our means today to fashion a language that is much more efficient and appealing that Pidgin or Basic English, or Esperanto or Marxese to facilitate communications among the sharers of a new world belief and participants in an accompanying grand movement. This language would of course become a cultural language after overcoming its severe trials as a rational language.

Notes (Chapter 6: Symbols and Speech)

1. "Culture and Continuity," 9 Tech. and Culture (April, 1968), 210

2. See this author's review of Ernest Dichter, Handbook of Consumer Motivations: The Psychology of the World of Objects, in 8 Amer. Behav. Sci. 2 (Oct. 1964).

3. Malcolm Lowery, letter to the author, 4 Dec. 1976.

4. J. B. Gleason, "Gestural Linguistics," 205 Science (21 Sept. 1979), 1253.

5. "The Natural History of Language," in F. Smith and G. H. Miller, eds., The Genesis of Language, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1966, 248, 219-52.

6. "Brains and Behavior," in Spuhler, op. cit., 17.

7. H. S. Terrace et al., "Can an Ape Create a Sentence?" 206 Science 4421 (23 Nov. 1979), 901.

8. Psychology of Communications, New York, 1967, 104-5.

9. Johnson, op. cit., 170. He cites Monod.

10. Op. cit., 309.

11. Johnson, op. cit.

12. Ibid.

13. Cf. T. Thuss-Thienemann, The Subconscious Language, N. Y.: Wash. Sq. Press, 1967 on the thoroughly metaphorical and associational development of language.

14. Cartesian Linguistics, A Chapter in the Historical Rationalist Thought, N. Y.: Harper and Row, 1966, 73.

15. An Essay on Man, New Haven: Yale U. Press, 1944.

16. Ibid., 122.

17. Sprach der Eiszeit, Berlin: Herbig, 1962; mss. trans. by Malcolm Lowery, 1976.

18. Carrol, intro. to Whorf, Language, Thought and Reality, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1956, 12.

19. Norman B. Tindale, Aboriginal Tribes of Australia, Berkeley U. of California Press, 1974, 118-20.

20. Letter to Peter James, Aug. 28. 1977.

21. Op cit., 80.

22. J. A. L. Singh and R. M. Zingg, Wolf Children and Feral Man (N. Y.: Harper, 1942).

23. Op. cit., 25.

24. Op. cit., 55.

25. Ibid., 58-61.

26. Ibid., 85.

27. Ibid. 67.

28. Ibid. 252..

29. Ibid., 257.

30. Ibid., 242-3.

31. Ibid., 244.

32. London: Royal Society Printers, 1668.

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