Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 13:47:04 EST


Subject: Intelligent Language

Ohio University Electronic Communication

Date: 06-Dec-1995 01:46pm EST


From: David Bergdahl Dept: English

BERGDAHL Tel No: (614) 593-2783

Subject: Intelligent Language

There ARE some language-based phenomena which do correlate with intelligence:

humor for one. The ability to play on words, allude to fossilized speech

history or literature or popular culture, rhetorical skill combined with wit and

wisdom, these are associated with intelligence. Of course, this is verbal

intelligence, and there are others: along with Linguistic Intelligence Howard

Gardner Frames of Mind lists Musical Intelligence, Logical-Mathematical

Intelligence, Spatial Intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence and Personal

Intelligences in his 1983 book. My 11 yr old's school has "gone over" to the

theory of multiple intelligences in a big but pop psychology way. But that's

another thread. The point to the question appears to be is, is linguistic

intelligence primary, or a predictor of "general intelligence," or somehow

privileged? The answer--within our culture--is yes, but that various prejudices

(such as the pronunciation of ANN as [i[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]n] with [AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] as schwa) override our

judgments. But, taking away judgments of social status, we all have to admit

that schools as society's proxy reward verbal ability and stigmatize those

without excellence in that area. In the same way, in the church choir as a kid

I was told to move my mouth but not sing because they needed boys in the choir

but I was tone deaf and couldn't sing on key. In terms of musical intelligence,

I'm a dud, but believe it or not it has not affected by social status one iota.

Likewise, I was told I was tall enough for basketball but too uncoordinated to

consider it; my tenure decision, fortunately, did not consider my low score on

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence. You get the point: we may object to the

privileged status of verbal ability (ability, NOT social status inferred from

pronunciation or grammar), but it is used, and not just by psychologists.

(Although I suspect that Harvard Ed School Prof. Gardner is closer to what

'psychologists' believe than our straw man!)


David Bergdahl

Ohio University/Athens

"Where Appalachia meets the Midwest"--Anya Briggs

Received: 06-Dec-1995 01:46pm