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Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax$
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Derek Bickerton and Eörs Szathmáry

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262013567

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262013567.001.0001

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Cognition and Social Dynamics Play a Major Role in the Formation of Grammar

Cognition and Social Dynamics Play a Major Role in the Formation of Grammar

(p.344) (p.345) 16 Cognition and Social Dynamics Play a Major Role in the Formation of Grammar
Biological Foundations and Origin of Syntax

Steels Luc

The MIT Press

Modeling has been a useful tool for understanding the mechanisms underlying the origins and evolution of human language. This chapter describes models used to explore the role of cognition and social interaction in the formation of grammar. After providing a short overview of ongoing experiments, it discusses the kinds of structures and processes that are effective and argues that neither the grammatical structure of human languages nor the conceptual inventories expressed in language must be strongly innate. Thus, the main role of biology is to provide the powerful cognitive machinery which constitutes the basis of human intelligence as a whole. The chapter also looks at the key ingredients of socio-cognitive models, namely, a population of individuals, a world which acts as source of meaning for the agents, and a language game.

Keywords:   evolution, language, socio-cognitive models, cognition, social interaction, grammar, biology, human intelligence, language game

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