Bio-Linguistics : The Santa Barbara lectures

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Is human language an evolutionary adaptation? Is linguistics a natural science? These questions have bedeviled philosophers, philologists and linguists from Plato through Chomsky. Prof. Givon suggests that the answers fall naturally within an integrated study of living organisms.In this new work, Givon points out that language operates between aspects of both complex biological design and adaptive behavior. As in biology, the whole is an adaptive compromise to competing demands. Variation is the indispensable tool of learning, change and adaptation. The contrast between innateness and input-driven emergence is an interaction between genetically-coded and behaviorally-coded experience.
In enlarging the cross-disciplinary domain, the book examines the parallels between language evolution and language diachrony. Sociality, cooperation and communication are shown to be rooted in a common evolutionary source, the kin-based hunting-and-gathering society of intimates.
The book pays homage to the late Joseph Greenberg and his visionary integration of functional motivation, typological diversity and diachronic change.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 383 pages
  • 164 x 245 x 25.4mm | 670g
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • English
  • 158811225X
  • 9781588112255

Table of contents

1. Preface; 2. 1. Language as a biological adaptation; 3. 2. The bounds of generativity and the adaptive basis of variation; 4. 3. The demise of competence; 5. 4. Human language as an evolutionary product; 6. 5. An evolutionary account of language processing rates; 7. 6. The diachronic foundations of language universals; 8. 7. The neuro-cognitive interpretation of 'context': Anticipating other minds; 9. 8. The grammar of the narrator's perspective in fiction; 10. 9. The society of intimates; 11. 10. On the ontology of academic negativity; 12. Epilogue: Joseph Greenberg as a theorist; 13. Bibliography; 14. Index
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