Chapter

Language

Gennaro Auletta

in Cognitive Biology

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608485
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729539 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199608485.003.0024
Language

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This chapter deals with human natural languages, the most important and widespread form of symbolic system we know. The richness of this symbolic system relative to the so-called formal languages is likely to be a consequence of the fact that it has arisen at the evolutionary scale thanks to the contribution of spontaneous teleonomic processes, and not engineeringly. After having introduced some basic notions, the chapter deals with the most important linguistic school of the last decades, the cognitivist school led by N. Chomsky. Then, some specific problems are considered that do not seem to receive a satisfactory answer in that context: The articulatory problem, language modularity, the relations between syntax and semantics, the evolutionary origin of language and language acquisition by children. Many important developments have arisen from this school. The final part of the chapter is devoted to the issue of whether other primates are able to use language. Three different theoretical approaches and their results are analyzed.

Keywords: Chomsky; cognitivism; language; syntax; semantics; pragmatics; language modularity; nativism; basic ontological categories; evolutionary origin of language; language acquisition; primates

Chapter.  20891 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Physics

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