Creating Language: Integrating Evolution, Acquisition, and by Morten H. Christiansen

By Morten H. Christiansen

Language is a trademark of the human species; the pliability and unbounded expressivity of our linguistic talents is exclusive within the organic international. during this e-book, Morten Christiansen and Nick Chater argue that to appreciate this awesome phenomenon, we needs to give some thought to how language is created: second by means of second, within the iteration and figuring out of person utterances; 12 months via 12 months, as new language inexperienced persons gather language abilities; and new release via new release, as languages switch, break up, and fuse during the approaches of cultural evolution. Christiansen and Chater suggest a progressive new framework for realizing the evolution, acquisition, and processing of language, providing an built-in idea of ways language production is intertwined throughout those a number of timescales.

Christiansen and Chater argue that mainstream generative techniques to language don't supply compelling bills of language evolution, acquisition, and processing. their very own account attracts on vital advancements from around the language sciences, together with statistical traditional language processing, learnability thought, computational modeling, and psycholinguistic experiments with childrens and adults. Christiansen and Chater additionally examine a number of the significant implications in their theoretical process for our knowing of ways language works, providing replacement money owed of particular facets of language, together with the constitution of the vocabulary, the significance of expertise in language processing, and the character of recursive linguistic structure.

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Extra resources for Creating Language: Integrating Evolution, Acquisition, and Processing

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On the other hand, given that the relevant mutations would have had to occur independently several times across different populations, the causal explanation plausibly goes in the opposite direction, from genes to language. The two alleles may have been selected for other reasons relating to brain development but once in place they made it harder to acquire phonological systems involving tonal contrasts, which, in turn, allowed languages without tonal contrasts to evolve more readily. This genetic-biasing perspective (also advocated by Dediu and Ladd) dovetails with our suggestion that language is shaped by the brain, as discussed below.

Following Darwin (1871), we propose that language has adapted through gradual processes of cultural evolution to be easy to learn, produce, and understand. From this perspective, the structure of human language must inevitably be shaped around human learning and processing biases deriving from the structure of our thought processes, perceptuo-motor factors, cognitive limitations, and pragmatic constraints. Language is easy for us to learn and use not because our brains embody knowledge of language, but because language has Language as Shaped by the Brain 21 adapted to our brains.

What would be the fate of humanity, if language as we know it suddenly ceased to exist? Would we end up as the ill-fated grunting hominids in Planet of the Apes? Not likely, perhaps, but try to imagine the devastating consequences of language loss on a more personal level. Language is so tightly interwoven into the very fabric of our everyday lives that losing even parts of it has detrimental repercussions. Consider, for example, the problems facing someone with agrammatic aphasia as evidenced in the following speech sample from a patient explaining that he has returned to the hospital for some dental work: Ah … Monday … ah, Dad and Paul Haney [referring to himself by his full name] and Dad … hospital.

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