Biolinguistics: Exploring the Biology of Language

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Cambridge University Press, 2000 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 264 pages
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This book investigates the nature of human language and its importance for the study of the mind. In particular, it examines current work on the biology of language. Lyle Jenkins reviews the evidence that language is best characterized by a generative grammar of the kind introduced by Noam Chomsky in the 1950s and developed in various directions since that time. He then discusses research into the development of language which tries to capture both the underlying universality of human language, as well as the diversity found in individual languages (Universal Grammar). Finally, he discusses a variety of approaches to language design and the evolution of language. An important theme is the integration of biolinguistics into the natural sciences - the 'unification problem'. Jenkins also answers criticisms of the biolinguistic approach from a number of other perspectives, including evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, connectionism and ape language research, among others.
 

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Contents

The unification problem
15
Knowledge and use of language
57
Acquisition growth of language
76
Mechanisms of language
109
Evolution of language
144
Conclusion
228
References
234
Index
254
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Page 7 - ... regulatory circuits, which either unleash or restrain the various biochemical activities of the organism, that the genetic program is implemented. [In related organisms, mammals for example], the diversification and specialization ... are the result of mutations which altered the organism's regulatory circuits more than its chemical structures. The minor modification of redistributing the structures in time and space is enough to profoundly change the shape, performance, and behavior of the final...

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