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    Ambridge, Ben and Lieven, Elena 2015. The Handbook of Language Emergence.


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    Stolk, Arjen Verhagen, Lennart Schoffelen, Jan-Mathijs Oostenveld, Robert Blokpoel, Mark Hagoort, Peter van Rooij, Iris and Toni, Ivan 2013. Neural mechanisms of communicative innovation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 110, Issue. 36, p. 14574.


    Waters, Dennis P. 2012. From extended phenotype to extended affordance: distributed language at the intersection of Gibson and Dawkins. Language Sciences, Vol. 34, Issue. 5, p. 507.


    Steels, Luc 2011. Modeling the cultural evolution of language. Physics of Life Reviews, Vol. 8, Issue. 4, p. 339.


    Levinson, Stephen C. and Evans, Nicholas 2010. Time for a sea-change in linguistics: Response to comments on ‘The Myth of Language Universals’. Lingua, Vol. 120, Issue. 12, p. 2733.


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With diversity in mind: Freeing the language sciences from Universal Grammar

  • Nicholas Evans (a1) and Stephen C. Levinson (a2)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X09990525
  • Published online: 26 October 2009
Abstract
Abstract

Our response takes advantage of the wide-ranging commentary to clarify some aspects of our original proposal and augment others. We argue against the generative critics of our coevolutionary program for the language sciences, defend the use of close-to-surface models as minimizing cross-linguistic data distortion, and stress the growing role of stochastic simulations in making generalized historical accounts testable. These methods lead the search for general principles away from idealized representations and towards selective processes. Putting cultural evolution central in understanding language diversity makes learning fundamental in the cognition of language: increasingly powerful models of general learning, paired with channelled caregiver input, seem set to manage language acquisition without recourse to any innate “universal grammar.” Understanding why human language has no clear parallels in the animal world requires a cross-species perspective: crucial ingredients are vocal learning (for which there are clear non-primate parallels) and an intention-attributing cognitive infrastructure that provides a universal base for language evolution. We conclude by situating linguistic diversity within a broader trend towards understanding human cognition through the study of variation in, for example, human genetics, neurocognition, and psycholinguistic processing.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
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