Empty Speech: The Non-Certifiably Brain-Damaged—Loraine Obler Lingua Pranca Contents Conversation as Paranoia—Hugo Aelgh

Bilingualism in Rats: A Ten-Year Study


How To Employ All The Equipment In The Neurolinguistic Laboratory

Loraine Obler

Much recent work of fair sophistication has explored various neuropsychological approaches to Hebrew-English bilingualism, in hopes of shedding some light on the more general problem of the brain’s organization for language, but little thought has been put to the deeper problem of how to impressively employ all the equipment in our laboratory. It is to investigate this profound issue that we propose the following project.

Little is known about the mechanisms of bilingualism, and almost no work has been done in the rich field of bilingualism in rats, which field should dafka be easier to explore than humans, since most hold the hypothesis that rats’ brains are smaller. Thus we propose developing populations of balanced Hebrew-English bilingual rats, and of course, of monolingual English and monolingual Hebrew ones as controls. (It will be important to assure that the bilinguals are exposed to no third language.) Advantage must be taken of the tachistoscope in utilizing that paragon of modern education, programmed learning, so that each rat can proceed to learn the two languages at his or her own pace.

The problem of feeding the rats will be solved by using the two tape recorders; on one will continuously run a loop presenting avid and loud scientific discussion, which can be counted on to regularly attract one of the sanitary staff, who, upon opening the door, will be instructed to feed the rats the banana jacks and to clean the ashtrays. (The second tape recorder will be attached to the door alarm system by means of the voice-key microphone which will activate the ocillagraph which will scare the second tape recorder into giving its message.)

The carrousel projector will provide necessary entertainment for the rats, in the respective languages. The second microphone will provide an opportunity for more creative rats to employ their newly acquired language skills in addressing their fellows.

Original use will be made of the PDP-11 which will serve the double function of housing the rats in its various cells, and of employing its superb memory capacities à la Russe to record everything that goes on in the lives of the rats. The extra wires will be used, much as now, for decoration. The Skinner box materials, though incomplete, can still perform their most basic function of skinning deceased rats to prepare them for post-mortem examination.

The entire system will be housed in the sound-proof acoustic box so as not to distract the secretary.

With such a set-up, we cannot help but get publishable results; indeed, with luck and an intelligent first generation of rats, we can get the rats themselves to do the dirty details undescribed in this brief proposal: working out experiments and writing up the articles. The true elegance of this project must be seen in nothing so common as benefit to aphasics, or mere pure knowledge as to how the brain works, but rather in the brilliance of the design which will finally have minimized the troublesome variability effect of inconstant humans and will have dramatically maximized the productivity of $20,000 worth of machines. Such an impressive advance in Science can hardly fail to attract grants for ever more machines, the true recompense for valuable research.

Empty Speech: The Non-Certifiably Brain-Damaged—Loraine Obler
Conversation as Paranoia—Hugo Aelgh
Lingua Pranca Contents