George Packard was on the move.
Racing and careening,
Along with the #20 bus
Down ol’ Wilshire Blvd.
George was very pleased to be writing for Bumbastories again, especially since Bumba had abandoned that Monday Magazine format. Some magazine! Nobody read it anyway. Poor Bumba! Boo hoo. As for himself, George was relieved to shelve, at least temporarily, his journalistic ambition of capturing a “Breaking News” story, what they call a “scoop”. Scoops are OK in their place, reflected George – and here it must be mentioned that our journalist George Packard in his “professional” reflections on scoops typically conjured up in his mind scoops of ice cream perched upon a sugar cone – all the same this “breaking news” stuff that is pushed in the media tends to involve occurences that are generally the most gory, the most tragic and horrific – and, well….. most generally the kind of things that George Packard thought it most prudent to try to stay away from. Better it was to just go to the beach and forget about scoops, thought George, retired schoolteacher and still-roving reporter for Bumbastories. George rode the #20 bus.
As George Packard sat on the bus he eased back in his seat and opened a book. Without all that pressure to come up with a big story every week for that silly magazine, George was able to relax. The book was Language and Species by Derek Bickerton, a most interesting book that explored the roots of language in humans. Surely the development of language was the key event in our evolution as humans: Yes, language, the great accelerator of our evolution and enabler of our “success” as a species. Our use of language and ability to work with abstractions sets us apart from the other animals, and allows us “mastery” over nearly all the land, not to very laudable results so far.
The evolutionary roots and origins of language are usually considered an unanswerable question by linguists. But surely, Bickerton expounds, such a neurological development had to arise from somewhere. “Primary representational systems”, perceptual categories, and innate behavioral patterns – which were already well-developed in many social animals – somehow gave birth to proto-languages in humans, explains Bickerton. With the incisiveness of a surgeon, Bickerton explores the origins of language and covers many of the most interesting questions of human evolution and psychology. It’s not an easy read, admitted George Packard, especially with some of that convoluted, technical mumble-jumble that seems to plague the science of linguistics, but it’s definitely a ‘highly recommend”. This Bickerton fellow was a great find. George planned to read more of his works. Bickerton, a professor of linguistics at Hawaii Univ has a blog too, discovered George. Gee, thought George as he stepped off the bus, this Bickerton fellow is something of a literary scoop. George’s mind soon returned to thoughts about ice cream……