Minimizing Language Evolution

Víctor M. Longa, Guillermo Lorenzo and Juan Uriagereka

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199549368
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Minimizing Language Evolution

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  • Linguistics
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  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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This article sketches the sorts of issues that arise within evo-minimalism. Lewontin reminds us that the evolutionary study of cognition, and more particularly the language faculty, is no easy game, given the distance between the proteins genes express and the cognitive functions in whose development or deployment such proteins may be implicated. The article attempts to sketch the sorts of difficulties that arise in relating all the necessary steps leading from one to the other extreme of such a causal chain, which casts some doubt on the viability of constructing true evolutionary explanations in the realm of cognitive novelties such as the ‘Faculty of Language–Narrow Sense’. In addition, several difficulties exist in deciphering whether putative relations of hypothesized capacities in various species are genuine homologies, or instead, weaker analogies.

Keywords: evo-minimalism; language evolution; language faculty; cognition

Article.  10132 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Language Evolution ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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