Eikonal Blog


Linguistics links


Language universals

  • “Are languages shaped by culture or cognition? – Linguists debate whether languages share universal grammatical features.” by Philip Ball (Nature; 2011.04.13) http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110413/full/news.2011.231.html
      They found that neither of the universalist models matched the evidence. Not only did the co-dependencies that they discovered differ from those predicted by Greenberg’s word-order ‘universals’, but they were different for each family. In other words, the deep grammatical structure of every family is different from that of the others: each family has evolved its own rules, so there is no reason to suppose that they are governed by universal cognitive factors.

      What’s more, even when a particular co-dependency of traits was shared by two families, the researchers could show that it came about in different ways for each, so it was possible that the commonality was coincidental. They conclude that the languages — at least in their word-order grammar — have been shaped in culture-specific ways rather than by universals.

  • “Universal truths” (Nature [Volume 472; Page 136]; 2011.04.14) – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v472/n7342/full/472136a.htmlRejection of broad commonality in structure of languages has implications for all sciences.
  • “Evolved structure of language shows lineage-specific trends in word-order universals” by Michael Dunn, Simon J. Greenhill, Stephen C. Levinson, Russell D. Gray (Nature [Volume 473; Pages 79–82]; 2011.05.05) – http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v473/n7345/full/nature09923.html [FOR PAY ARTICLE]

Language myths

Related here: Language evolution and families – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/language-families/ | Learning languages / Language acquisition – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/learning-languages-language-acquisition/ | Bilingualism – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/bilingualism-multilingualism/ | Language acquisition – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/learning-languages-language-acquisition/ | Body language – https://eikonal.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/it-journals/.

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