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Why Only Us: Language and Evolution

Robert C. Berwick and Noam Chomsky

Abstract

We are born crying, but those cries signal the first stirring of language. Within a year or so, infants master the sound system of their language; a few years after that, they are engaging in conversations. This remarkable, species-specific ability to acquire any human language—“the language faculty”—raises important biological questions about language, including how it has evolved. This book addresses the enduring question of the evolution of language. It explains that until recently the evolutionary question could not be properly posed, because we did not have a clear idea of how to define “ ... More

Keywords: human language, language faculty, evolution, Minimalist Program, biolinguistic perspective, computational efficiency, evolutionary change, Noam Chomsky, vocal learning

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2016 Print ISBN-13: 9780262034241
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034241.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Robert C. Berwick, author

Noam Chomsky, author