GRICE: Me Tarzan, you Jane.
JANE: That's right, Tarzan. I am Jane, and you are Tarzan, but you should say,
"I am Tarzan".
GRICE: You Tarzan?
JANE: No, me Jane, you Tarzan.
GRICE: You Tarzan.
"Tarzan: human nature" is now playing. Of course, it should be entitled,
"Tarzan: Griceian nature," because it is all about the conceptual analysis of
Tarzan -- the fictional character invented by Chicago-born Edgar Rice
Burroughs, apparently inspired on Grice -- is also able to communicate with
human and non-human animals, in particular tribes of Great Apes that live in
his local region of Africa (the Belgian Congo, Tarzan is by birth, a Belgian)
who possess a "primitive language" (as Tarzan's father, Viscount Greystoke
would call it) that is unknown to science -- and thus to Popper.
The language may not be complex, but it does have names for individuals, and
"Tarzan" is his Great Ape name. It is formed out of
where each syllable has a meaning of its own.
Tarzan is extremely intelligent, and, what fascinated Grice about him, is that
he (Tarzan, not Grice) was literate in English before being able to speak the
language when he first encounters other English-speaking people such as his
love interest (Tarzan's love interest, not Grice's), Jane Porter -- an American
from Baltimore (Grice's love interest was the daughter of a navy engineer).
Tarzan's literacy is "self-taught", as Wittgenstein would put it ("I taught
myself through the Tractatus, but I was at an advantage point: I had written
it!," he told Ramsey) after several years in his early teens by visiting the
log cabin of his dead parents and looking at and correctly deducing the
function of children's primer/picture books.
It is a pity that there the Viscount and the Viscountess did not have a copy of
Jones's Pronouncing Dictionary of English.
The books were brought to Africa by his (i.e. Tarzan's, not Grice's) dead
mother who intended to teach her son herself. (In this, Tarzan's mother was
acting like Grice's mother, who taught English to Grice while living in this
affluent suburb of Brum, or Birmingham, if you must.
Tarzan (not Grice) eventually reads every book in his dead father's portable
book collection, and is fully aware of geography, basic world history, and his
family tree, yet is not able to speak English until after meeting human beings
as he never heard what English is supposed to sound like when spoken aloud.
Had the Viscount and the Viscountess a copy of Jones's Pronouncing Dictionary,
Tarzan (and for that matter, Grice) would have been able to realise that
As it happens, Tarzan (not Grice) is "found" by a traveling Frenchman (Grice's
surname is French, 'gris', grey) that teaches him the basics of human speech
and returns him to England.
In Oxford, Grice did not learn Greek and Latin, because he had learned it at
Tarzan learned a new language in days, ultimately speaking many languages,
including that of the great apes -- where "Tarzan" qua name belongs -- vide
Kripke on 'rigid designation' -- French (if with a Belgian pronunciation),
Finnish (not Indo-Aryan), English, Dutch, German, Swahili, many Bantu dialects,
Arabic, ancient Greek (as in Homer), ancient Latin (as in the earliest
inscriptions), Mayan, and the languages of the Ant Men and of Pellucidar.
As Griceians, we should noted that, unlike depictions in black and white movies
of the 1930s, after learning to speak a language in the novels Tarzan/John
Clayton is VERY articulate (for a conceptual analysis of articulation -- first
articulation, second articulation, third articulation, etc. -- in terms of
compositionality alla Frege) and reserved (he prefers to listen and carefully
observe before speaking -- thus following Grice, "do not speak until you are
spoken to") and does not speak in broken English as the classic films depict
him (Jane does, but only BECAUSE she thinks that Tarzan is inarticulate).
Tarzan also communicates with many species of jungle animals, and has been
shown to be a skilled impressionist, able to mimic the sound of a nightingale
and a gunshot perfectly. There is a Griceian distinction, though. A gunshot
means, but a nightingale means, in a different way.