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Breaking down false barriers to understanding

AutorSteels, Luc
Palabras claveLanguage variation
Language processing
Fecha de publicación2014
EditorOxford University Press
CitaciónThe Social Origins of Language: (2014)
ResumenThis chapter argues that there are four dichotomies underlying contemporary linguistics which are getting in the way of developing adequate theories of language evolution, namely the distinction between competence and performance, synchrony and diachrony, origins of language vs. origins of languages, and competence vs. processing. When we break down these dichotomies we can apply the general theory of selection on a cultural level to explain the many features of human languages. Illustrating this approach, this chapter argues that languages culturally evolve to maximize communicative success and minimize cognitive effort, giving support to a selectionist theory of language evolution. Two concrete examples are given: one, showing that explicit marking of semantic function avoids semantic ambiguity and hence makes the language more effective. Another example shows that case marking is known to erode in the historical development of many languages, but the erosion is not random but constrained by communicative and cognitive requirements.
Versión del editorhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665327.003.0024
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