Selfish Sounds and Linguistic Evolution: A Darwinian Approach to Language Change
This book takes an exciting perspective on language change, by explaining it in terms of Darwin's evolutionary theory. Looking at a number of developments in the history of sounds and words, Nikolaus Ritt shows how the constituents of language can be regarded as mental patterns, or 'memes', which copy themselves from one brain to another when communication and language acquisition take place. Memes are both stable in that they transmit faithfully from brain to brain, and active in that their success at replicating depends upon their own properties. Ritt uses this controversial approach to challenge established models of linguistic competence, in which speakers acquire, use, and shape language. In Darwinian terms, language evolution is something that happens to, rather than through, speakers, and the interests of linguistic constituents matter more than those of their human 'hosts'. This book will stimulate debate among evolutionary biologists, cognitive scientists and linguists alike.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
2 The historical perspective
3 Approaching language change
4 The Darwinian approach
5 Generalising Darwinism
6 Towards an evolutionary theory of language
7 What does all this imply for the study of language change?
Other editions - View all
actual approach articulatory assumed biological brain-states brains building blocks clearly cognitive competence constituents competence properties complex adaptive systems concepts configurations copy course Darwinian Dawkins environment environmental established evolution evolutionary theory evolve example exist expressed fact factors feedback feet foot-memes genes genetic genome guage historical human individual interpretation involved language acquisition language change large number lexical lineages linguistic behaviour linguistic competence linguistic replicators long vowels means memeplex memes memetic Middle English minds Modern English morph-memes morphemes morphs Neogrammarian neuronal nodes ofits oflanguage oflinguistic Old English one’s Open Syllable Lengthening organisms particular patterns perspective phenotypic phone-memes phonemes phonological population predict processes question regard replicating systems represent rhythmic Richard Dawkins schwa selection pressures sense sequences short vowels similar sound changes sound laws speakers specific speech community stable structure syntactic tence texts textual tion trochaic trochees types units utterances variants vowel quantity word forms