S/O Human thought and language acquisition

Dear Randy,
If you have a chance to read her work, you will be astonished. She had one patient who was 9 months old. By that time the doctors had given up on trying to cure the child’s ills. The child had acute respiratory failure and skin legions that we incurable with school medicine. Caroline studied the child’s history and spoke with all those who had contact with the child since birth. She sat the baby down and talked to her as an adult.

"Your mother loved you very much, but she had six other children to care for. She wanted you to have more than she could give you. She found a family for your that could offer you much more. Your mother did not give you up for adoption because she did not want you, but because she loves you. You do not have to return to your mother’s womb to find love again. You do not need to breath amniotic fluid again and live in the womb to be safe. You now have a loving family that will care for you. love you and protect you.

Shortly after this talk, all of the symptoms resolved and the child was healthy. Children understand everything that is said around them from the first minutes. This was a case that this baby heard the nurses speaking about the mother who gave up their child. And the child did eventing in it power to return to the safety of the womb.

I think that this has good intent. However, I really question the resolution of respiratory failure and skin lesions with counseling.

I have a 5 year old who does not understand some complicated words I use with her. In my biased opinion, she is exceptionally bright, and uses multiple syllable words. However, there are even some unfortunate misperceptions she has because of not understanding my words. I have to be careful to explain them.

Now, she usually understand my tone.

You understand this, living in country with at least 4 different official languages. I’d be interested in your thoughts. Thanks.

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If she claimed to have cured a 9-month-old of acute respiratory failure and skin lesions, by talking to her about her mother, then she was either mistaken or she was a purveyor of potentially dangerous quackery.

This is the opposite of science. Run away!


Well, at least the kid didn’t have to “breath amniotic fluid again.”

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This is demonstrably false. Language acquisition takes time. [content removed] That is not the kind of research we promote on this forum.


Christy, Please study the research before condemning it. This is what many scientists do - reject something that does not meet with their worldview. If you open up the possibility that a person has a soul, then the soul is fully conscious from the first minutes. I understand that neuroscience does not accept the concept of the soul, but there are many neurologists that would disagree with this school medicine.

No. I would automatically rule out the research of anyone who claims a newborn understands human speech. The soul doesn’t have anything to do with language acquisition.


I’ve studied enough to know nonsense and what you posted is nonsense.

That’s a slander we hear regularly in lieu of a defense of a false claim. It’s actually a bellwether of falsehood: “oh the scientists are just defending their worldview”.

That’s a very, very silly non sequitur.

You damage the forum by using it to tout snake oil and to disparage scientists.


@Shawn_Mutphy: As someone who has serious language disabilities. I find the idea that understanding language is inherent to having a soul, rather incredulous. I mean, I can’t understand everything that is said to me. It’s one reason that I like text based forums.

Through intense therapy, I was able to learn to communicate. What you are suggesting sounds like I was born with a partial soul or something. Who knew that speech therapist could complete the soul making process. SMH. Sorry, but this just sounds crazy to me.

Another thought, would not her theory seem to suggest that we all should be able to understand all languages? I mean how is it that the babies are born to understand just the language of their parents?


I am confused… A text based forum is even more impossible without language than spoken communication. I don’t think Shawn was claiming that a soul depends on sound or pronunciation.

Language is the one difference between humans and animals. I certainly believe that language is the substance of the human mind. But this soul stuff seems to be derived from other religions and the original words translated to “soul” in the Bible would appear to mean some combination of life, body, mind and person. So I prefer the word “spirit” which is much more clearly explained in the Bible and that is something which I think all living things have. As Paul says, “if there is a physical body then there is a spiritual body,” but the physical is first, then the spiritual. But the “soul” was the invention of those believing in transmigration and reincarnation.

They do have ears, you know. Just because they haven’t been born yet doesn’t mean they don’t hear anything.

First, my preference for text is because I can read better than I hear. My brain just does not translate sound into meaningful form as efficiently as it does the written word.

He is saying that babies are born in a way that they can already understand their native language. How is this possible? By simply hearing words? How would they know what to associate the words to? Further, if learning language primarily started in the womb, babies adopted across national lines would show some delay. Do you have any evidence that this is the case? I don’t think so.

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Our understanding of language even increases in old age. It is something we continue learning our whole life. But there is no reason to preclude the possibility that this begins before birth and it would be learned in the same way we always do by associating the use of words with the other events we experience. The question here, is whether developmental psychology can show that there are some prerequisite brain development before any real comprehension of language can begin. But even in that case I think this is likely to vary considerably between individuals. The most I can say is simply that there is no way that language and the human mind can develop in any way before there is brain activity starting from around the 20th week of pregnancy.

I certainly would not say that. Conscious memories usually start between 3-5 years old. But this is something where the most conservative estimate is to be preferred, and so I would favor pushing this back to that 20th week in pregnancy – no matter how little or likely there would be significant development that early.

Come on! That is silly. We learn from the language spoken by our parents not from our geographical location!

Exactly! Which is why the whole idea of babies knowing language when they are born is absurd.

OK, Shawn_Murphy WAS saying it which was what I was arguing against.

I don’t see how sounds of talking could be associated with anything a baby sees in the womb. Be that as it may, I don’t think that we have any major disagreement. My disagreement is with Shawn_Murphy claiming that a 9 month old baby understood an adult level conversation.

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What has sight to do with it. Do you think blind people are severely handicapped in learning to speak? You would be wrong if so. For the deaf, however, it is different story (which is generally solved by using a visual language first). This shows that hearing is the most importance for leaning to speak (in the usual way with voice that is).

Language is social and language comprehension is socially constructed. There was some study done once on hearing children of Deaf parents who had their toddlers watch television all day with the thought that they would learn English. But by the time they went to preschool, they had only acquired ASL and could not speak or understand English at all. Regardless of brain development, babies who are not spoken to in a responsive way that reacts to what they do and say won’t acquire a language just because it is in their environment.

There are some studies that suggest that even very young infants attend to the speech sounds of their mother’s language more closely than other non-speech sounds in their environment, which people speculate comes from hearing their mother’s voice in utero, but pointing out that the brain seems predisposed from infancy to attend to a mother’s words is a far cry from speculating that babies actually understand words. The cognitive processes needed for language processing require lots of links between sensory input, (perceiving what is happening in the environment) and social language input. (And the neural pathways that allow a baby to process sensory stimuli need to be developed by taking in stimuli. Babies with normal vision aren’t born able to make sense of visual stimuli; that needs to be developed.) That is why there are significant language development delays for children who have very little one-on-one verbal contact with a caregiver.


Sight or some sort of interaction that the baby can perceive has a connection with the word spoken. You do not learn a language simply by hearing it spoken.

You ever read about Helen Keller? It was only when her teacher was able to connect the symbols drawn in her hands to things in her surroundings that she was able to figure out that words had meaning. Deaf people have no harder time learning sign language when signed to from birth, as hearing child have learning a spoken language. Hearing is NOT the most important element in learning a language. Being able to associate the sound or symbol to a “thing” is.


Exactly! It is association!

Incorrect. Hellen Keller was blind AND deaf. The ease with which blind people learn to speak demonstrates that it is hearing not sight which is important for learning spoken language. So the most you can say is that a deaf baby is not going to learn any language in the womb. And the point which Christy raised was only that interaction is important and not just hearing background noise. But parents DO interact with their unborn child quite often, so that observation is irrelevant. Do they always interact with the unborn child? LOL No more than they always interact with the child after the child is born. Thus your argument falls apart and is shown to have no substance whatsoever.

Her point is that language (gestural or spoken) is meaningless unless you can connect the arbitrary symbols to things and concepts in the environment. You need some kind of sense perception to make the connections. Blind people connect spoken words to what they perceive through all their senses except sight. Deaf people connect signed words to what they perceive through all their senses except hearing. Helen Keller connected gestural words she felt, not saw, to what she perceived through touch. Some way of connecting your sensory perception to symbols is necessary to learn a language. Babies in utero have extremely limited sensory perception and an extremely limited environment to perceive. So no connections will be made between the arbitrary sounds and what those sounds mean, even if their parents speak to them.


No kidding, but we are talking about all language not just spoken language.

No they don’t. All the baby can do is hear their voices.

No, you are just proving that you will argue regardless. of facts.


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