Language in the Light of Evolution, Volume 2: The Origins of by James R. Hurford PDF

By James R. Hurford

ISBN-10: 0199207879

ISBN-13: 9780199207879

This is often the second one of the 2 heavily associated yet self-contained volumes that contain James Hurford's acclaimed exploration of the organic evolution of language. within the first booklet he checked out the evolutionary origins of which means, finishing as our far away ancestors have been approximately to step over the edge to trendy language. He now considers how that step could have been taken and the results it absolutely had. The ability for language we could people formulate and exhibit an enormous diversity of propositions approximately actual or fictitious worlds. It permits them to converse those propositions, frequently overlaid with layers of nuance and irony, to different people who can then interpret and reply to them. those methods ensue at breakneck pace. utilizing a language potential studying an unlimited variety of arbitrary connections among varieties and meanings and ideas on the right way to control them, either one of which a typical human baby can do in its first few years of existence. James Hurford seems at how this miracle got here about.The booklet is split into 3 elements. within the first the writer surveys the syntactic buildings obtrusive within the communicative behaviour of animals, akin to birds and whales, and discusses how vocabularies of realized symbols can have advanced and the consequences this had on human notion. within the moment he considers how a long way the evolution of grammar trusted organic or cultural elements. within the 3rd and ultimate half he describes the possible direction during which the human language college and languages advanced from uncomplicated beginnings to their current complicated nation.

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Extra resources for Language in the Light of Evolution, Volume 2: The Origins of Grammar

Sample text

We need more empirical field research. Moving on to birds, the dominant consensus in the birdsong literature is that songs are meaningful in the sense that they function to attract mates or defend territory. The great variety in some birdsong repertoires is interpreted as impressive display, or versatile echoing of rival songs. Very few authors claim any compositional semantics for birdsong. Exceptions to this general trend are Hailman et al. (1985), writing about the black-capped chickadee, and Smith (1972), on its close relative, the Carolina chickadee.

The terms in each column here are equivalent to each other. The boldfaced terms are my own preferences for three of the classes of languages. My preferred terms are more transparent to an interdisciplinary audience. With some terminological variability, both Strictly 2-Local and State Chain languages are 25 ‘⊂’ means ‘is a subset of’. animal syntax? language as behaviour 35 associated with ‘Markov processes’ or ‘Markov models’, named after the Russian mathematician Andrei Markov (1856–1922). I use the term ‘State Chain’, rather than the more normal ‘Finite State’, in order to avoid any possibility of confusion between these languages and merely finite languages.

24 the origins of grammar accounted for by simple proximate mechanisms rather than by the cognitive abilities that have been thought necessary in humans’ (p. 699). To recap, it is worth looking at complex song in species not closely related to humans because of the possibility of a parallel independent evolution adapting to similar functions, and involving similar brain mechanisms. If this happened, then some time after the human/chimp split, our ancestors developed a capacity for complex musical or song-like behaviour that was later recruited for the expression of complex meanings.

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Language in the Light of Evolution, Volume 2: The Origins of Grammar by James R. Hurford

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