Speaker Series 2002
March 14, 2002:
- 5:00pm, Slee Concert Hall,
"Possible Stages in the Evolution
of the Language Faculty"
human ability to learn language is a human cognitive specialization,
encoded (in some unknown way) in our genes. The evident adaptivity
of linguistic communication suggests that this capacity arose through
natural selection. It is therefore a challenge for linguistics to
find a plausible route by which the features of language could have
evolved step by step. I will propose such a route, using evidence
from child and adult language acquisition, from aphasia, from pidgin
and creole languages, from "language"-trained apes, and
from "fossils" of earlier forms of the language capacity
still found in modern-day languages.
Jackendoff is Professor of Linguistics at Brandeis University, where
he has taught since 1971. He is a Fellow of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences, President-Elect of the Linguistic Society
of America, and past President of the Society for Philosophy and
Psychology. He is author of Semantics and Cognition, Languages of
the Mind, Consciousness and the Computational Mind, and (with Fred
Lerdahl) A Generative Theory of Tonal Music. His most recent book,
Foundations of Language, is being published by Oxford University
Press this winter.
Department of Anthropology
P. Capen Chair of Anthropology
of Computer Science and Engineering
Department of Linguistics
Information Science (IGERT)
to the Public. Free Admission.
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