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Genie, as she was later dubbed to protect her privacy by the psycholinguists who tested her, could not stand erect.
Only a few cases are recorded of human beings who have grown up without any real contact with other humans.
So rare is the phenomenon that when a 12-year-old wild boy was found in the forest of Aveyron in 18th-century France, the government ordered him brought to Paris to be examined by doctors in an institution for deaf-mutes.
Its a terribly important case, says Harlan Lane, a psycholinguist at Northeastern University who wrote The Wild Boy of Aveyron.
Since our morality doesnt allow us to conduct deprivation experiments with human beings, these unfortunate people are all we have to go on.
She has inspired a California researcher who worked with her, Susan Curtiss, to develop a controversial hypothesis about how language learning affects the two hemispheres of the brain.
Genie has also stirred up debate about the relationship between language and other mental abilities.
She salivated and spat constantly, so much so that her body and clothing were filled with spit and reeked of a foul odor, as Curtiss recounts.
When excited or agitated, she urinated, leaving her companion to deal with the results. Nevertheless, Genie was decidedly human, and her delight at discovering the worldas well as her obvious progressmade the struggle worthwhile.
As a result, new research is now in progress on the surprising language ability of some mentally retarded children.
As described in Curtisss book, Genie: A Psycholinguistic Study of a Modern-Day Wild Child (Academic Press), Genie is living proof of human resilience. Her father apparently hated children and tried to strangle Genies mother while she was pregnant with her first child.