Language in a Darwinian perspective
Though it is well-known that nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution, in linguistics the received view is to reject the Darwinian approach. This book breaks the prevailing taboo and argues instead that linguistic features - speech sounds, grammatical distinctions and syntactic strategies - have followed an evolutionary course. Though variation exists and gratuitious changes can be found, an indepth study clearly suggests that on the whole linguistic features have developed under two sets of selections pressures: the pressure to reduce the neuromuscular cost, and the concomitant pressure to find ever-more functional alternatives. Moving on from language to writing, the author argues that the observed optimalization process also applies to the evolution of writing from hieroglyphs to alphabets. Both language and writing are indeed better understood in the light of evolution. Contents: language evolution - language families - language diversity - evolution of writing - theory of evolution - cyclical scenarios - linear models - linguistic theories.
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When Accepted Views are Challenged
A Watch a Wheel a Vector
and Huttons cyclical theory of the earth
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acquired action active advocated agglutinative alphabet ancestral language approach argued become Bichakjian biology century cerebral changes conceptual consonantal consonants course cyclical cyclical model Darwin developmental direction discussion distinctions efficient Egyptian hieroglyphs Engl English evolutionary evolved existence explain French functional genetic German Glottalic consonants glottalized grammatical greater Greek guages head-first structures head-last hieratic history of writing humans hypotaxis Indo-European languages labiovelar Lamarck language evolution laryngeals Latin left hemisphere lexical linguistic features Lyell markers Meillet modern morphological natural neotenous neuromuscular nominative nouns object observed obstruents organization original pattern perceptual phonetic pictograms Pinker possible preposition present produced pronunciation protolanguage reconstructed replaced right hemisphere Rosetta Stone Sapir Saussure scenario scientific script selection pressures selective advantages Semitic sentence Sewall Wright shift speakers species speech sounds static subordinate clauses syntactic theory tion tive uniformitarian Universal Grammar variant verbal verbs voice word order writing system