What is said is one of the most specific manifestations of our thoughts, attitudes and preferred ways of action: it can be recorded, written down and subjected to a reliable and precise quantitative and qualitative analysis. Studying language is our passion and the most basic method of work. Let’s move to a few examples.
Psychology of language
narrative and paradigms, propositional calculus, parts of speech, inflectional forms, foxp2
Comments to your statements in individual reports and communication tips provided during training courses usually refer to the fields of knowledge and language sciences listed below. Here, we would like to list only the most important ones.
A. Anthropology and beginnings of speech development
Hominidae: 99% development without language
It is assumed that the language as we know it, i.e. based on the syntax, was created about 45,000 years ago with the appearance of the new species, Homo Sapiens. With 6 million years of development of hominids, speaking is something really new (it involves less than 1% of the development time for humans). The mathematical model of evolutionary dynamics of language development (Nowak, Komarova) has shown that the transition from the proto-language in which there were still no parts of speech became beneficial when the vocabulary of humans exceeded 400 components (a syntax with a vocabulary of this size could be used faster and more precisely) . Indeed, we are fascinated by such research and analyses: knowledge about the beginnings of speech helps us understand what we work with every day. We can, for example, ask what was the original use of acts of speech; whether action and collaboration were more important, or was it perhaps creating real and reliable representations about the world? We face this dilemma in almost every report, and participants of our training courses can be divided into those who treat their language as a useful tool for action, and those more stubborn who attach much greater importance to the description of the world made possible thanks to language.
B. Neurolinguistic research
How to explain the fact that mice with an implanted FOXP2 gene are more effective becoming familiar with a new maze? What is the significance of increased ability to repeat the same procedures and habits for language? Is it possible to lose reading, but not writing skills, and is it possible to lose the ability to speak using verbs, but keep the ability to use nouns? Answers to these questions can be surprising.
- FOXP2 is a gene discovered on human chromosome 7 the lack of which, inherited in accordance with Mendel’s law of heredity, causes specific language impairment (SLI), especially in the aspect of using grammar, which is a set of rules and language routines.
- Yes, you can lose the reading ability and retain your writing ability as a result of a stroke.
- Yes, you can also have serious difficulty speaking in verbs and much less using nouns.
Knowledge in this respect helps us understand what results in small specific mistakes in speaking and writing. What the meaning of significant agrammatism and paragrammatism may be for everyday organisation of work.
C. Language development in small children
This is a particularly fascinating area of knowledge because it involves not only the development of language, but the development of the entire person. From our perspective, two issues seem particularly interesting:
The decomposition of “holophrases” of small child, e.g. „Shoes!” into a prediction/argument structure and all parts of speech and inflectional forms, i.e. in this case:
In the transcripts of conversations and statements that we analyse, we see a different level of decomposition: only some of us can fluently use complex abstract concepts, and we are even less aware of their limitations and the mistakes we make if we absolutise them.
Development of theory of other people’s mind. Let’s conduct a short test of false beliefs. Two children are invited into a room. When they are together, we hide the toy in a wardrobe. Then, we ask one of the children to leave the room. When the child closes the door behind him/her, we take the toy out of the wardrobe and hide it in a desk. We are now asking the child who witnessed what we did (and who is tested) where his/her colleague will look for a toy when we invite him/her back into the room. The children who will answer that the other child will be looking for the toy in the desk do not have the THEORY OF OTHER PEOPLE’S MIND. We classify such responses as autistic. What is the world of a person who cannot take other people’s perspective? What world does he/she live in? What is empathy in this situation? Although it may sound paradoxical, many of us have serious difficulties with decentration (which does not mean, of course, that we will not solve the test of false beliefs): it happens that we cannot empathise with our customers and employees; we often speak what we are convinced of and often to ourselves.
The following are important from the viewpoint of our work:
Lists of primal expressions and words i.e. those that are repeated in all languages of the world. Swadesh’s finding may be interesting in this context: that we can distinguish a list of 100 such words, but not 200 because in some languages there will be no equivalents,
Speech banks and frequency lists of the contemporary Polish language in which we can verify the frequency of individual words,
Theories and studies in the field of generative-transformational grammar (Universal Grammar), describing functions and meaning of particular parts of speech and inflectional forms,
Speech act theory formulated by John Austin and developed by John Searle. It features lists and breakdowns of performative verbs, i.e. those that distinguish such statements in our communication as: informing, denying, questioning, ordering, asking, promising, congratulating, threatening, apologising, thanking, appointing, announcing, etc. Our analyses of statements are full of this type of behaviour. Here, of course, it is important whether or not a conversation with the team involves such performative verbs as: questioning, transferring information or, alternately, asking, threatening and intimidating. A lot of managers uses questions and paraphrasing of statements of their employees and associates to a limited extent.
Methods to analyse key words. E.g.: Significant overrepresentation of statements: always, never, should, need, must not, everyone, no-one, totally, absolutely, undoubtedly, according to Suitbert Ertel’s studies shows an elevated or high level of dogmatism. Each of us knows how difficult it is to work with people who are infallible and know everything better.
Theories and methods in the field of discourse and narrative analysis.
Our favourite authors include: Wittgenstein I, Wittgenstein II, Gadamer, Chomsky, Popper, Khun, Buber, Levinas.