The Evolution Of The Language Faculty Clarifications And Implications Pdf
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The relation between language change and the process of language evolution is controversial in current linguistic theory. Some authors believe that the two processes are completely unrelated, while for others the evolution of language is at least in part a consequence of linguistic changes. Both models imply a very different assessment of what is changing when languages themselves change. I present an explicit model of what changes when languages change, and I show that the claim that language change is a crucial factor in explaining the evolution of human language, although suggestive and very popular, faces problems of a theoretical and empirical nature.
This short piece addresses the confusion over terminology that has reigned, and partly still reigns, when it comes to the concept of Universal Grammar UG. It is argued that whilst there might be changes in terminology and theory, conceptually UG cannot be eliminated. From a biolinguistic perspective, UG is not a hypothesis by any rational epistemological standard, but an axiom. Along these lines, the contemporary evolutionary perspective on the language faculty FL is briefly discussed to then argue that UG is necessarily part of FL in both a narrow and broad sense. Ultimately, regardless of terminology, UG is inevitably one of the factors determining the growth of FL. Anderson, S. The human language faculty as an organ.
The philosophical debate over innate ideas and their role in the acquisition of knowledge has a venerable history. It is thus surprising that very little attention was paid until early last century to the questions of how linguistic knowledge is acquired and what role, if any, innate ideas might play in that process. However, few had much to say about the properties of us in virtue of which we can learn and use a natural language. To the extent that philosophers before the 20th century dealt with language acquisition at all, they tended to see it as a product of our general ability to reason — an ability that makes us special, and that sets us apart from other animals, but that is not tailored for language learning in particular. All this changed in the early twentieth century, when linguists, psychologists, and philosophers began to look more closely at the phenomena of language learning and mastery. With advances in syntax and semantics came the realization that knowing a language was not merely a matter of associating words with concepts. It also crucially involves knowledge of how to put words together, for it's typically sentences that we use to express our thoughts, not words in isolation.
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Skip to search form Skip to main content You are currently offline. Some features of the site may not work correctly. DOI: Fitch and M. Fitch , M. In this response to Pinker and Jackendoff's critique, we extend our previous framework for discussion of language evolution, clarifying certain distinctions and elaborating on a number of points. In the first half of the paper, we reiterate that profitable research into the biology and evolution of language requires fractionation of "language" into component mechanisms and interfaces, a non-trivial endeavor whose results are unlikely to map onto traditional disciplinary boundaries.
Innateness and Language
The study of language evolution, and human cognitive evolution more generally, has often been ridiculed as unscientific, but in fact it differs little from many other disciplines that investigate past events, such as geology or cosmology. Well-crafted models of language evolution make numerous testable hypotheses, and if the principles of strong inference simultaneous testing of multiple plausible hypotheses are adopted, there is an increasing amount of relevant data allowing empirical evaluation of such models. The articles in this special issue provide a concise overview of current models of language evolution, emphasizing the testable predictions that they make, along with overviews of the many sources of data available to test them emphasizing comparative, neural, and genetic data. The key challenge facing the study of language evolution is not a lack of data, but rather a weak commitment to hypothesis-testing approaches and strong inference, exacerbated by the broad and highly interdisciplinary nature of the relevant data. This introduction offers an overview of the field, and a summary of what needed to evolve to provide our species with language-ready brains.
Language Label Description Also known as English The evolution of the language faculty: clarifications and implications. Europe PubMed Central. PubMed ID. The evolution of the language faculty: clarifications and implications.
However, in the last decade a new synthesis of modern linguistics, cognitive neuroscience and neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory has begun to make important contributions to our understanding of the biology and evolution of language. I review some of this recent progress, focusing on the value of the comparative method, which uses data from animal species to draw inferences about language evolution. Discussing speech first, I show how data concerning a wide variety of species, from monkeys to birds, can increase our understanding of the anatomical and neural mechanisms underlying human spoken language, and how bird and whale song provide insights into the ultimate evolutionary function of language. Then I will turn to the neural mechanisms underlying spoken language, pointing out the difficulties animals apparently experience in perceiving hierarchical structure in sounds, and stressing the importance of vocal imitation in the evolution of a spoken language. Turning to ultimate function, I suggest that communication among kin especially between parents and offspring played a crucial but neglected role in driving language evolution.
Angela S. Asif A.