Date: Wed, 6 Dec 1995 22:22:07 -0500 From: SETH SKLAREY Subject: Re: Language and Intelligence A former partner I had in a neighborhood bar hailed from Rochester, NY. A steady customer we had was raised in L.A. (Lower Alabama.) My partner, in his assertion of superior intelligence often asked him: "If you're so smart, how come I can talk like you, but you can't talk like me?" Seth Sklarey Wittgenstein School of the Unwritten Word Coconut Grove, FL crissiet[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] >Rima, >My apologies to your husband the psychologist, but he seems to have been >only half-educated by modern linguistics; he should go all they way. >In what way could vocabulary measure intelligence (if by intelligence we >mean something really crass like 'the ability to figure things out')? If >you lack some words, you simply lack them. For example, when you enter a >new technical field, you clearly do not have the vocabulary for that >endeavor. Would you say that after you had acquired it you were more >'intelligent.' Surely not. What I am sure your well-meaning huisband means >is that we (i.e., psychologists) have developed certain traditional >'benchmarks' which guide us in the evaluation of intelligence. We assume, >therefore, that the acquisition of a certain breadth of vocabulary >(nonspecialized, of course) indicates a certain 'normal' development. While >this might be a relatively effective device for a homogeneous population >(and I doubt that it is really effective there), in the midst of diversity, >it is almost as poopy as dialect prejudice. >On that latter matter, I like your list of those dialects which are 'really >heavy, thick' - 'Southern/NY/Oklahoman/etc.' >If I told you how really heavy, thik Inland Northern, especially urban >(e.g., Michigan ) dialects sound to me (and make me think of their >speakers), I would run out of the state that feeds me. >Of course, now I know that it is not true that everybody north of >Indianapolis-Columbus (roughly) will not give you the time of day and >cheat you if they can (surely the mildest of my reactions to Inland >Northern), but it has required linguistic discipline to arrive at that >conclusion. Like Virgiknia, I ofetn despair of so-called 'attitude >changing' priograms, but I think we should keep trying. There is positive >evidence as well. >Dennis >(who has learned to keep a straight face while Inland Northern speakers >talk) Preston > > > >>At 4:13 PM 12/5/95, STEPHANIE RAE WELLS wrote: >>>I'm just curious to know if anybody out there still holds the belief that >>>a persons intelligence can be measured by the way they speak? >> >>My husband the psychologist says that while we may recognize that accents, >>dialects et al. are not good indicators of intelligence, vocabulary is >>amongst our best indicators. (And on a personal note, I must admit that >>when I hear a really heavy, thick Southern/ NY /Oklahoman/etc. accent I >>have to concentrate on not immediately thinking stupid -or at least >>uneducated.) >> >>Rima > >