November 1, 2007

Evolutionary Linguistics: A New Look at an Old Landscape

This paper by anthropologist Marc D. Hauser, David Barner & Tim O’Donnell explores the evolution of language, focusing on insights derived from observations and experiments in animals, guided by current theoretical problems that were inspired by the generative theory of grammar, and carried forward in substantial ways to the present by psycholinguistics working on child language acquisition.

The authors suggest that over the past few years, there has been a shift with respect to empirical studies of animals targeting questions of language evolution. In particular, rather than focus exclusively on the ways in which animals communicate, either naturally or by means of artificially acquired symbol systems, more recent work has focused on the underlying computational mechanisms subserving the language faculty and the ability of nonhuman animals to acquire these in some form.
ALSO VISIT: The Cognitive Evolution Lab - at Harvard University

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