Monday, February 18, 2008

Language Evolution V: Christiansen & Kirby (2003)

As I’m going home over the vacation and thus will only have relatively infrequent access to the internet, I’ll write some kind of preliminary presentation of my discussion of language evolution by presenting the contributions found in Kirby and Christiansen’s (2003) anthology “Language Evolution.” Kirby and Christansen tried to get together the “big names” in the study of language evolution, and had them write some kind of an introduction to their take on the key issues on the topic. I will present the contributions when I find the time, probably infrequently.

The book includes 17 contributions, with the first chapter being some kind of general introduction by the editors. I will briefly discuss each contribution, trying to give a short overview on the main approaches to the topic.

The contributors are (in order of appearance) :

  • Steven Pinker, who still stands by his incremental, adaptationist view of language evolution, which he first proposed in Pinker & Bloom (1990), though by now he places this view with the broader context of evolutionary psychology.

  • James Hurford, who is now prof.emeritus at the University of Edinburgh and worked at the Language Evolution and Computation there. Hurford’s main focus is a comprehensive framework for identifying the parts of the “language mosaic” which enables fruitful research into the various ‘pre-adaptations’ for language

  • Frederick J. Newmeyer, who is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington, and stresses the necessity that linguists engage themselves into the study of language evolution and especially in interdisciplinary discussion, if they really want the field to progress.

  • Derek Bickerton, an Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawai, who, originially specialized in creoles, by now definitely is one of the most prominent figures in the field. He is especially famous for his introduction of the term ‘proto-language’ into the study of language origins.

  • Terrence W. Deacon, who is a , and had a major impact on the field with his 1996 book “The Symbolic Species”. In it he focussed on our ability for counterintuitive, hierarchically organized ‘symbolic reference’ and the role of the prefrontal cortex in these kinds of computations.

  • Iain Davidson, an archaeologist who, mostly together with the psychologist William Noble, has published extensively on the archaeological evidence for symbolic evolution, and insists on the close relation of language and thought.

  • Marc D. Hauser and W. Tecumseh Fitch, who we already know from their paper they published with Noam Chomsky in 2002. Both are champions of the comparative approach to language evolution and human cognition, with Fitch specializing in animal vocal communication and the evolution of the human vocal tract, and Hauser integrating research from primatology, infant cognitive development, and cognitive neuroscience.

  • Michael A. Arbib, a professor involved in the discovery of mirror neurons. These neurons, fire both when an action is performed or perceived and are located in the monkey F5 premotor cortex, a homologue to Broca’s Area, which led Arbib and others to investigate their role in the evolution of language and social cognition.

  • Michael C. Corballis, who is a professor of psychology at the University of Auckland, and argues that gestural communication preceded spoken language, drawing on evidence from sign languages, cerebral asymmetry, and the fact that primates are much better at manual than at vocal control.

  • Robin I. M. Dunbar, who is professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Liverpool, and does research on the relation of cortex size and number of group members, and argues for the importance (both presently and evolutionary) of language as a mechanism of group cohesion and social bonding.

  • The speech scientists Michael Studdert-Kennedy and Lous Goldstein, who investigate the articulatory aspects of language and speculate on the evolutionary pathway of phonetic and phonology capacity, stressing the importance of biophysical and neurological explanations.

  • Philip Lieberman, who could be described as the enfant terrible of language evolutionary studies, and focuses on the ‘messy’ aspects, namely their direct neural implementation. Lieberman argues for a continuous view of human language evolution and sees motor control as a precursor to syntax, and as a determiner of the structure of language in general.

  • Simon Kirby, who is I think the only lecturer in the evolution of language in the whole world, and Morten H. Christiansen, , who use computational methods and models for genetic and cultural transmission to gain insight into the evolutionary dynamics of language.

  • Ted Briscoe, who also uses computer models but arrives at conclusions somewhat different from that of Kirby and Christiansen, because he poses the existence of some innate genetically transmitted domain-specific structure which aids language learning, something Kirby and Chrisitansen remain agnostic and critical about.

  • Finally, Natalia L. Komarova and Martin A. Nowak, who employ mathematical models and evolutionary game theory to describe language evolution, and give a very clear account for the theoretical underpinnings of language learning and follow Chomsky in posing the necessity of innate expectation for language.

Of course, since then a lot of interesting things happened, and some approaches defintiely have gained importance. The most influential elaborations were I think in the Area of Social Cognition, as illustrated by Tomasello et al.'s (2005) paper, and, for example, this excellent new blog post by Edmund Blair Bolles. The other area were much progress was made was theoretical inquiry into the dynamics of cultural evolution, and especially its (mathematical) application to historical language evolution.

So in my next post I’ll write about Pinker’s approach, or rather about the extensions and modifications of his original framework in (Pinker & Bloom 1990)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Four Stone Hearth

By the way, the 34th Editition of the Four Stone Hearth Anthropology Carnnival is out over at Our Cultural World.

Go check it out!

P.S. Carnivàle also happens to be a really cool TV-Series. You should check it out, too.

Language Evolution IV: HCF + PJ + FHC + JP =/= ♥

As could be expected, the framework established by HCF led to much criticism from proponents of what HCF called hypothesis 2. Thus, in 2005, Pinker and Jackendoff (PJ) responded to HCF by asking:
“The faculty of language: what’s special about it?”
The controversy led to further discussion in the same year when Fitch, Hauser and Chomsky (FHC) defended their viewpoint in
“The evolution of the language faculty: Clarifications and implications”
and Jackendoff and Pinker renewed their disagreement debating
“The nature of the language faculty and its implications for the evolution of language“.
PJ’s first critique mainly focuses on the “recursion-only claim” of HCF, because they feel that there is more that is special to language. Furthermore, they question that recursion evolved as an exaptation (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 205). They especially defend the “Speech is Special” (SiS) hypothesis posed by Alvin Liberman and others, which was rejected by HFC (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 206), because it seems that the speech perception system and vocal production in humans have been specially adapted for language (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 206-209), and not for vocal imitation or size exaggeration as HCF suggested (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 209f.). They also assess that

"words, as shared, organized linkages of phonological, conceptual, and grammatical structures, are a distinctive language-specific part of human knowledge” (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 215).
They also question the usefulness of the FLB/FLN distinction in general and criticize HCF/FHC’s blurring of the difference between homology and analogy. (Jackendoff/Pinker 2005: 214-216) Further, they cite genetic evidence as an argument against the recursion-only claim, namely that the FOXP2-gene, though present for example in mice, chimpanzees, and humans has been positively selected in the human lineage, and is critical for
"articulation, production, comprehension, and judgments in a variety of domains of grammar, together with difficulties in producing sequences of orofacial movements”
and not only for recursion (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 218).
Finally, they criticize Chomsky’s Minimalist Program (MP) as a rationale of HCF’s research program, which they find problematic because of the massive counterevidence against it. In their opinion, the adaptationist view of language seems much more plausible (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 231).

In their reply, FHC emphasize their independence of the MP (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 183), and stress that
"most of the data PJ discuss concern mechanisms that are part of FLB by definition, because related mechanisms exist in other species and/or other cognitive domains”
(Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 204), which in their view clearly is an adaptation shaped by natural selection (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 189). They further argue that, though welcoming demonstrations
"that other mechanisms should be added to FLN” (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 204),
SiS would not present a testable, strong hypothesis and thus could be accepted as given (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 219).
Citing the phoneme discrimination abilities by macaques and other evidence as arguments against SiS (Fitch/Hauser/ Chomsky 2005: 195), they conclude that their
“hypothesis 3 is not only plausible, but that no data refuting it currently exist” (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 205).
FHC also introduce the current utility/functional origins dichotomy, on which I elaborated in chapter 3, and argue that
“from an empirical perspective, there are not and probably never will be data capable of discriminating among the many plausible speculations that have been offered about the original function(s) of language.”
Thus, Pinker and Jackendoff’s framing of questions about language evolution would be of little scientific value (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 185f.) JP contradict this statement. In their view, current adaptation, „what the trait was selected for in the species being considered”, poses one of the biologically most interesting questions about a trait and can be addressed empirically by reverse-engineering or functional analysis, which is able to “shed light on its likely evolutionary history.” (Jackendoff/Pinker 2005: 212-214).

The debate regarding recursion heated up once again when Gentner et al. (2006) claimed to have found recursion-abilities in starlings, and Perruchet & Rey criticized Fitch and Hauser’s original experiment that established the inability of monekys to master “phrase structure grammars” (Fitch & Hauser 2004). Regarding the ability of recursion in starlings, these two posts are especially interesting. First this one by Mark Liberman, and the other, where David Beaver regards the recursion-abilities of starlings which in the respect of center-embedded grammars actually seem to be better than ours, and comes to the ironical conclusion that
“we have firm and amazing evidence for a biologically unique language module. The trouble is, starlings have it, and we don't.”
Other excellent post from the Language Log about HCF's claims can be found here, here, here, here, and here.


Hauser, Marc D., Noam Chomsky and W. Tecumseh Fitch 2002. “The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?” In: Science 298, 1569-1579.

Fitch, W. Tecumseh and Marc. D Hauser. 2004. “Computational Constraints on Syntactic Processing in a Nonhuman Primate” In: Science 303: 377-380

Fitch, W. Tecumseh, Marc D. Hauser and Noam Chomsky 2005. “The Evolution of the Language Faculty: Clarifications and Implications.” In: Cognition 97, 179-210.

Jackendoff, Ray & Steven Pinker 2005. “The Nature of the Language Faculty and its Implications for Evolution of Language (Reply to Fitch, Hauser, and Chomsky).” In: Cognition 97, 211-225.

Pinker, Steven & Ray Jackendoff 2005. “The Faculty of Language: What’s Special about it?” In: Cognition 95, 201-236.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Popular (Mis)conceptions of Linguistics?

Hm. Interesting:
Since I created "Google Alerts" for the collocations "Language Evolution", "Evolution of Language" and "Origins of Language", sometimes I'm hitting on very interesting posts (though most times it's either about that new Coppola Movie or general complaints about or reflections on the introduction of new words or slang terms into public discourse). Today I found a link to the real estate/ michael a. caruso weblog, which seems to be your average personal journal. However, what sparked my interest was a short post on "The Origins of Language", where you can find the following:

"While linguists have looked for clues since long ago of how language works,
scientists take a different approach."

Does this represent a general public conception of linguists as not being scientists, or as not doing anything scientific at all?

As someone studying linguistics I find this quite frustrating. But also as a native of Germany I find this confusing, as in German there are to term for "Linguistics" which basically mean the same thing, namely "Linguistik" (linguistics) and "Sprachwissenschaft" (Language Science/ The Science of Language).

But probably this is a topic for the Language Log

Monday, February 11, 2008

Language Evolution III: Hauser, Chomsky, Fitch 2002

When Hauser, known for his strong continuist position, and Chomsky, known as a strong discontinuist, collaborated on the programmatic paper “The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?” together with W. Tecumseh Fitch, it was, as Derek Bickerton states,
“almost as if Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat had coauthored a position paper on the Middle East” (Bickerton 2007: 519).
Just as the 1990 paper by Pinker and Bloom, this paper reviews other hypotheses about language evolution and then, synthesizing a massive amount of comparative data, proposes a new research agenda. It gives a good impression of the state of the discussion in the first decade of the twenty-first century, especially when taking into account the heated debate that revolved around this research program between these authors and Pinker and Jackendoff, which I will describe in my next post.

HCF distinguish between the faculty of language in the broad sense (FLB) and the faculty of language in the narrow sense (FLN). FLB consists of a “sensory-motor” system, including phonetics and phonology, as well as a “conceptual-intentional” system, including semantics and pragmatics (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 182), and maybe other systems (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1571f.). It
“includes all of the many mechanisms involved in speech and language, regardless of their overlap with other cognitive domains or with other species”.
FLB also comprises FLN, a subset which contains the aspects of language that are responsible for the fact that humans are the only species capable of language, and thereby should be a unique aspect of language as well as humanness (Fitch/Hauser/Chomsky 2005: 180f.).
Thus, research into the evolution of language is divided into three different areas of inquiry, according to the computational systems that comprise the faculty of language, as well as a fourth that is concerned with the interfaces between them. For each component, it has to be assessed whether the capacity is a uniquely human trait or if it is shared with other species, second, whether it developed gradual or saltational, and third, if it was an adaptation for communication or an exaptation of some other computational function (Hauser/Chomsky/ Fitch 2002: 1571).

HCF present three hypotheses which display the opinions of various scholars, with the third as their own viewpoint. The first hypothesis assumes that the faculty of language is strictly homologous to communication components of animals. The second hypothesis, which for example is stated by Pinker and Bloom, is that the faculty of language is a derived, uniquely human and highly complex adaptation for language “and many of its core components can be viewed as individual traits that have been subjected to selection and perfected in recent human evolutionary history”, and can be accounted for by natural selection (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1572). HFC take a different stand. Their hypothesis is that only the core component of recursion, that is narrow syntax and the mappings to interfaces of FLB,
“is recently evolved and unique to our species” (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1573).
Furthermore, they argue that “FLN may have evolved for reasons other than language” (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1571), and that recursion could be an exaptation that originally
“evolved to solve other computational problems such as navigation, number quantification, or social relationships” (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1578).
FHC emphasize that their hypothesis needs further empirical research (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1578) but is superior to many other theories because it presents itself in a tentative and testable manner (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1572). They advocate that inquiry into problems of language evolution is in need of massive multidisciplinary efforts and much more sampling of comparative data to assess whether a trait evolved specifically for human language or is homologous to animal computations,
“although it may be part of the language faculty and play an intimate role in language processing” (Hauser/Chomsky/Fitch 2002: 1572).
One thing I have to say about the article is that, although I wrote that it offers a good starting point, it actually is pretty murky and unclear, and without reading their “Carifications and Implications” I probably wouldn’t have understood what the whole paper really was about. And I think that the description of the language faculty as “narrow syntax and the mappings to interfaces of FLB,” doesn’t really tell us much regarding explanatory adequacy or how the thing really is supposed to work.

Nevertheless, or maybe even because of this, their proposal caused quite a fuzz, both in the blogosphere (An excellent discussion by Carl Zimmer can be found here (Part I) and here (Part II)
and in the form of other articles launched to attack or to enforce HCF’s theory. The most prominent attack probably came from Steven Pinker and their paper “The Faculty of Language: What’s special about it?” I will describe the debate between those two ‘teams’ in my next post.

P.S.: Over at the Language Evolution blog, you can find the second presentation in a series about "Major Language Evolution Papers", this time about a paper by Mesoudi et al. (2004), which discusses the cultural dynamics of evolutionary processes.


Bickerton, Derek 2007. “Language Evolution: A Brief Guide for Linguists.” In: Lingua 117, 510–526.

Fitch, W. Tecumseh, Marc D. Hauser and Noam Chomsky 2005. “The Evolution of the Language Faculty: Clarifications and Implications.” In: Cognition 97, 179-210.

Hauser, Marc D., Noam Chomsky and W. Tecumseh Fitch 2002. “The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?” In: Science 298, 1569-1579.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Language Evolution II: Pinker & Bloom

If there is one paper you definitely should cite when writing about Language Evolution, it is the seminal article “Natural Language and Natural Selection” (the prefinal draft can be found here) by Steven Pinker and Paul Bloom, which offers a good starting point for giving an overview of discussions about language evolution (Christiansen/Kirby 2003b: 15) because they review the contemporary theoretical paradigms of the field – like that of Chomsky, which I described in my last post – and then argue against them.
They refute the view that language is wholly incompatible with Darwinian theory as well as the theory that language could be an exaptation (Pinker/Bloom 1990: 707). In their opinion, language shows signs of “adaptive complexity”, the term describing “any system composed of many interacting parts where the details of the parts' structure and arrangement suggest design to fulfill some function” (Pinker/Bloom 1990: 709). Natural selection, that is the hypothesis that “the differential reproductive success associated with heritable variation is the primary organizing force in the evolution of organisms”, is the only scientific explanation for the development of such complexity (Pinker/Bloom 1990: 708), which could only have evolved gradually (Pinker/Bloom 1990: 711).
The function language evolved for was the communication of complex propositions. As the authors themselves point out, their paper does not so much present a new theory of language evolution as set the methodological framework for a new scientific research program (Pinker/Bloom 1990: 726f.).
The paper had a tremendous impact. In the open peer commentary, Jim Hurford (1990) hailed it as a “Liberation!” and saw it as the crucial step “Beyond the roadblock in linguistic evolution studies” most clearly represented by the 1866 ban on papers about language origin by the Linguistic Society of Paris and the rumored “Gentleman’s Agreement” with a similar notion by the Linguistic Society of America (Indeed, no paper about the topic appeared in the society’s journal, ‘Language’ until 2000 (Newmeyer 2003)), while Philip Lieberman (1990) (rightly) argued that he was making the same claim for years. To others, however, for example Richard Lewontin (Lewontin 1990: 740) and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini (Piattelli-Palmarini 1990: 754), language still appeared as “a system of such complexity that its selective value [still was] difficult to imagine” (Studdert-Kennedy/Knight/Hurford 1998: 3)
Regarding its impact, Christiansen and Kirby (2002) write that
“According to the ISI Web of Knowledge index, the rate at which language evolution work appears in the literature increased tenfold in the decade following the Pinker and Bloom paper. Thus, when counting the papers that contain both “language” and “evolution” in title, keywords, or abstract, the publishing rate for 1981-1989 was 9 per year, whereas it was 86 per year for the period 1990-1999, and 134 per year between 2002 and 2002. (Christiansen/Kirby: 3)
Surely there were other crucial factors for these massive expansions, like the technological, neurobiological and overall scientific advances made in the ‘Decade of the Brain’ and in subsequent years. Still, in the “Language Evolution and Computation Bibliography” Pinker & Bloom’s paper is listed as the most cited with 135 Citations, followed by Terrence Deacons’s “The Symbolic Species” on which I will focus in a later post, with 116, and Steven Pinker’s “The Language Instinct” with 94.

Christiansen, Morten H. and Simon Kirby 2003. “Language Evolution: The Hardest Problem in Science?” In: Christiansen, Morten H. and Simon Kirby (eds.) 2003. Language Evolution. Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press. 1-15.

Hurford, James R.1990. “Beyond the roadblock in linguistic evolution studies.” In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13.4, 736.

Lewontin, R.C. 1990. “How much did the Brain have to Change for Speech?” In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13.4, 740-741.

Lieberman, Philip 1990. “Not invented here.” In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13.4: 741.

Newmeyer, Frederick J. 2003. “Grammar is grammar and usage is usage.” In: Language 79: 682-707.

Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo 1990. “An Ideological Battle over Modals and Quantifiers.” In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13.4, 752-754.

Pinker, Steven & Paul Bloom 1990. “Natural Language and Natural Selection.” In: Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13.4: 707-726.

Studdert-Kennedy, Michael, Chris Knight and James R. Hurford 1998. “Introduction: New Approaches to Language Evolution.“ In: James R. Hurford, Michael Studdert-Kennedy and Chris Knight (eds.). Approaches to the Evolution of Language. Social and Cognitive Bases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1-5.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Language Evolution I: Noam Chomsky's Earlier Theories

Noam Chomsky is known as one of the strongest and most prominent opponents of the idea that Darwinian natural selection alone can account for the evolution of language. As it is with Chomsky, many controversies rank not only about what he actually said, but also about what people thought he said or meant with what he said. But since Chomsky often expressed his skepticism about evolutionary explanations of language, this was taken as unquestionable fact by many linguists. Even if Chomsky didn’t say that much about language evolution, the few things he did say had quite an impact. Here are some quotes illustrating his viewpoint (taken from Language Log:)

"It is perfectly safe to attribute this development [of innate language structures] to "natural selection", so long as we realize that there is no substance to this assertion, that it amounts to nothing more than a belief that there is some naturalistic explanation for these phenomena." [Noam Chomsky, Language and Mind, 1972, p. 97]
"In studying the evolution of mind, we cannot guess to what extent there are physically possible alternatives to, say, transformational generative grammar, for an organism meeting certain other physical conditions characteristic of humans. Conceivably, there are none -- or very few -- in which case talk about the evolution of the language capacity is beside the point." [Chomsky 1972 p. 98]
"It surely cannot be assumed that every trait is specifically selected. In the case of such systems as language or wings it is not even easy to imagine a course of selection that might have given rise to them. A rudimentary wing, for example, is not "useful" for motion but is more of an impediment." [Noam Chomsky Language and Problems of Knowledge: the Managua Lectures 1988 p 167]

Chomsky thinks language should be seen as a “spandrel” of some other structural change. The “answers may well lie not so much in the theory of natural selection as in molecular biology, in the study of what kinds of physical systems can develop under the conditions of life on earth and why, ultimately because of physical principles” (Chomsky 1988: 167). Though he does not deny that evolution played a role in the development of language, he stresses that it possibly emerged only via a small mutation and that ultimately only unknown operations of “physical laws applying to a brain of a certain degree of complexity” could explain the origin of the language faculty and its properties (Chomsky 1988: 170).
The only speculation he expressed before his Science paper with Fitch and Hauser was that

"It may be that at some remote period a mutation took place that gave rise to the property of discrete infinity, perhaps for reasons that have to do with the biology of cells, to be explained in terms of properties of physical mechanisms ,now unknown. [...] At that point evolutionary pressures might have shaped the further development of the capacity, at least in part. Quite possibly other aspects of its evolutionary development again reflect the operation of physical laws applying to a brain of a certain degree of complexity. We simply do not know. (Chomsky 1988: 170)
Perhaps at some time hundreds of thousands of years ago, some small change took place, some mutation took place in the cells of prehuman organisms. And for reasons of physics which are not yet understood, that led to the representation in the mind/brain of the mechanisms of discrete infinity, the basic concept of language and also of the number system. [...] Perhaps that was the origin of human language. "(Chomsky 1988: 183)

With the rise of Chomsky’s Minimalist Program this view became more concrete: if only few principles ultimately comprise Universal Grammar (Pinker/Jackendoff 2005: 219),
“one does not need to advance incremental, adaptationist arguments with intermediate steps to explain much of natural language's specific syntactic design” (Berwick 1998: 322).
Still, without Pinker and Bloom’s seminal article in 1990, on which I will post next, and the work they inspired, linguistics in a Chomskyan vein probably still wouldn’t amount to much more than to some speculations when regarding the question of the evolution of language. As Christine Kenneally (2007) puts it:
“His most damning evaluation of the idea that language was an adaptation was that it was ‘hard to imagine a course of selection that could have resulted in language.
Such was his eminence that when Chomsky said things like it’s ‘hard to imagine,’ it was taken to be a truth about the intractable nature of the problem rather than the limits of imagination. “ (p.39)
However, in 2002 Chomsky, who by now shruggingly admits that he ‘never would have imagined it would go this far“ (Kenneally 2007), presented an updated, drawn up and more elaborate version of this proposal together with Marc Hauser and W. Tecumseh Fitch.

It is interesting in this regard to look at Marc Hauser's reply to the Edge Annual Question - 2008
"What have you changed your mind about?" In it he writes:

"I must admit, however, that in recent years, I have made less use of Darwin’s adaptive logic. It is not because I think that the adaptive program has failed, or that it can’t continue to account for a wide variety of human and animal behavior. But with respect to questions of human and animal mind, and especially some of the unique products of the human mind — language, morality, music, mathematics — I have, well, changed my mind about the power of Darwinian reasoning."
These notions can probably be partly attributed to Hauser's contact with Chomsky's ideas.


Berwick, Robert C. 1998. “Language Evolution and the Minimalist Program: The Origins of Syntax.” In: James R. Hurford, Michael Studdert-Kennedy and Chris Knight (eds.). Approaches to the Evolution of Language. Social and Cognitive Bases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 320-340.

Chomsky, Noam. 1972. Language and Mind. New York: Harcourt.

Chomsky, Noam 1988. Language and Problems of Knowledge: The Managua Lectures. Cambridge, Mass. / London, England: MIT Press (Current Studies in Linguistics Series 16).

Kenneally, Christine. 2007. The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language. New York: Viking.

Pinker, Steven & Ray Jackendoff 2005. “The Faculty of Language: What’s Special about it?” In: Cognition 95, 201-236

Two other interesting resources about Chomsky’s view on the Relation of language and evolution can are John Maynard Smith’s review of Dan Dennett’s book “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea” and Chomsky’s reply to it.