Saturday, May 30, 2009

Language and genes tidbit

Well, more than a tidbit, but I'm so tired of the massive hype on this general topic that understatement is the only way to go. And I wouldn't have posted on this except that the big guns like the Log and Talking Brains (certainly a big gun on this topic if not yet among the most widely read language blogs) haven't gotten to it yet, it seems.

Various news outlets (like the NYT here) have run stories about the effects of FOXP2, hailed not long ago as 'the language gene' and such (sigh), on mice. The basic story is that if you put some version of this into a mouse, they make somewhat different sounds. As far as I can tell, Gary Marcus gets it right:
People shouldn’t think of this as the one language gene but as part of a broader cascade of genes.
You all know where this image is from, but .


Anonymous said...

But, but... isn't that a hamster?

Mr. Verb said...

Hamsters have really short tails = 'cordless', right?