Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mnemotechny (2)

Children are very often the subjects of some of the most shamefully devious experiments.

Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1194-1250) attempted to manufacture feral toddlers capable of speaking the pre-Babel 'natural' language of mankind...and God. (In another one of his ground-breaking experiments Freddy locked some convicts in an airtight room until they suffocated, then attempted to observe their souls escaping when the door was opened.)

More recently pyscholgists have been practicing the magical toy-shrinking machine experiment on the pre or proto-linguistic. Seeing the toy apparently shrink is a memorable event for most 2 or 3-year olds, but when reminded of the event 6 months to a year later they are only able to describe it using the limited vocabulary they had at the time, not the words they have acquired since. This reveals something interesting about the links between memory and language and may explain why we are all amnesiacs when it comes to our earliest years.

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