Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Language may be encoded in DNA...

I read this over at Wired a few weeks ago - that culture may be encoded in DNA.

Knowledge is passed down directly from generation to generation in the animal kingdom as parents teach their children the things they will need to survive. But a new study has found that, even when the chain is broken, nature sometimes finds a way.

I suppose what your definition of culture is. I guess that in this instant culture is likened to Chomsky's Language Acquisition Device, and it's not culture as we tend to think of culture as an interconnection between place, people, practices, communities, concepts and things. I would say that the ability to produce what we would define as culture may be a genetic trait, but culture in and of itself is not in DNA.

If it were we could take an adopted child from the US, move them to some remote Himalayan mountain, and that child will have the culture of his American parents. This is obviously a looney idea, however the idea that the child will pick up the culture of his adopted Himalayan parents and that he will pick up American culture if and when he moves back is something that is proven.

It was interesting to read about the finches in the article though...
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