Chomp On This: Food for Thought

You may not know it, but Noam Chomsky is a prominent theorist in the cognitive aspects of language structure and language development. I’ve been studying his theories on language development in class because language development is important to many disciplines like social psychology, neurology, AI, anthropology, etc. Being an english major these days isn’t just for people who are bad at math or want to work for NPR.

Chomsky’s theories about language suggest that there is an underlying or deep structure to language that has a biological basis and is therefore common for all cultures. This deep structure is more closely associated with the meaning of something rather than being associated with the details of surface sentence structure, which can vary within languages and between languages. The reason that we can use more than one kind of sentence structure to convey the same idea is because it is the ideas or concepts themselves that the human brain pulls out for comprehension and memory creation.

There are other linguistic theorists out there who have alternate views which emphasize other biological features such as our visual or other sensory organs as the common processing factors. This idea is consistent with the phenomena of synesthesia, which is where sensory input from different system get cross-wired in the brain. It’s like we are hard wired for metaphor. Although Synesthesia is inherent to some extent in everyone, certain more sever types of it are much more common in artists and people with – wait for it – Epilepsy.

The first time I took medication for my Epilepsy I was shocked to find out how very different the world looked and tasted and felt. Finally, after having a seizure while I was on my first medication, I realized why life seemed so lifeless. I could no longer see music. I could no longer taste words. Except when I had a seizure. I still feel a bit robbed, because Keppra does an even better job of dampening that. But it does give me the most vivid and wonderful dreams. They are deeply metaphorical and colorful, calk full of shapes, textures, symbols and little plays on words. You might think that everyone’s dreams are like that, and maybe they are, but I can tell you that there is nothing like dreaming on neuro-chemical dope i mean – wow. It’s almost like my chomsky-brain is struggling to break free while my conscious isn’t looking.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but there seem to a quite a few blogs out there associating food with writing. It makes sense to me; both food and language have strong biological-emotional components to them. Also, one thing we have always needed to do as a species until the advent of moving picture was to describe food – what it looks like, where to get it and how to cook it.



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