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Impossible Languages$
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Andrea Moro

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034890

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034890.001.0001

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The Boundaries of Babel

The Boundaries of Babel

Chapter:
(p.45) 5 The Boundaries of Babel
Source:
Impossible Languages
Author(s):

Andrea Moro

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034890.003.0005

One of the major discoveries of modern linguistics is that languages do not vary arbitrarily: for example, all syntactic rules must be based on hierarchical structure generated by recursive procedure rather than linear order. Neuroimaging techniques have shown that these formal restrictions constituting the boundaries of Babel are in fact represented in the brain for people who learn non-recursive artificially designed rules do not involve those neural circuits that underpin language computation. The boundaries of Babels cannot be cultural and arbitrary.

Keywords:   Arbitrariness, Biolinguistics, Neurolinguistics, Neuroimaging, Recursion, Impossible rules, Linearity

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