Abstract / Description of output
This chapter considers the implications of an evolutionary approach for the idea that human language syntax can be explained by an appeal to strongly constraining domain-specific linguistic nativism. Three sources of evidence that appear to support this particularly strong nativist position are examined: universals, the appearance of design, and the poverty of the stimulus. By taking seriously the fact that the cultural transmission of language has its own adaptive dynamics, it is shown that each of these three motivations is undermined, drawing on evidence from mathematical, computational, and experimental studies. It is suggested that a truly explanatory account of the origins of syntactic structure needs to tackle the interactions between culture, biology, and individual learning-interactions that are perhaps uniquely complex in the case of human language.
|Title of host publication||Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax|
|Subtitle of host publication||Strungmann forum reports|
|Place of Publication||Cambridge MA|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 2009|