Why is L the way it is?
Because of:

The whims of fashion

The language module in the brain
Social Conventions
Universal Grammar

The efficiency and effectiveness with which it fulfils its
Functions

Prior languages of which it is an (imperfect) copy
Cultural Evolution
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Explanations:
Types:



Causal
Functional
Historical
Structure:
Explanans
Why ... Y
Explanandum
Because...
Law
Condition
If X then Y
Y
Therefore Y
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Manifestations of
Language





Texts (external)
Behaviour (mind and body)
Competence (mind)
Social institution (mind pool)
Some abstract essence that one
can know about (????)
Zurück zur ersten Seite
TEXTS
A
E
trigger
result
in
Theories,
ideas,
abstract
knowledge
‘of’
INSTANCES OF LINGUISTIC
BEHAVIOUR
B
(productive and/or receptive)
informs
shapes
informs
constrains
C
INDIVIDUAL
consists of /
emerges from
LINGUISTIC
COMPETENCE
D
POOL/NETWORK
of
COMPETENCES
within a
COMMUNITY
Zurück zur ersten Seite
C on stitu en ts of a D arw in ian Sy stem
 R e p lic a to rs : e le m e n ts o f w h a te ve r n a tu re , w h ic h g ive n th e a p p ro p ria te
c o n ditio n s c an m a k e c op ies o f th em se lve s
 Im p e rfe c t C o p yin g F id e lity  g ivin g rise to V a ria tio n
 D iffe re n tia l re p lica tio n : s o m e re plic a to rs /c o p ie s m a y fo r w h a te ve r
re a s on tu rn o ut to b e be tte r a t rep lic a tin g a t
o th e rs .
E s ta blish e d c rite ria a re :
L o n g e vity
F e c u n d ity
C o p yin g F id e lity
 E xte rn a l lim its o n th e nu m b e r of s us tain ab le re p lica to rs /co p ie s
‘L im ite d R e s o u rc e s ’
A ll the s e e lem en ts a m o u n t to ‚au to m atic s ele ction ‘ of b e tte r re plic a to rs a n d
yie ld
E V O L U T IO N
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Why and how may language have
evolved?




How does language help an organism
survive and reproduce?
How may it have evolved gradually from
non-language?
Was there ever one proto-language and
what may it have been like?
What is the relation between universal
characteristics of human language
and its evolutionary origin?
Zurück zur ersten Seite
How does language increase the
fitness of an organism?
or rather: that of the genes in the organism?
• models reality
allows safe thought experiments
• communicates information about the world
allows individuals to profit
from experiences made by others
• conveys information about the speakers
allows quick recognition of friends and foes
• manipulates others
allows one to make others serve one’s own interests
• makes information tradable
allows one to give without losing
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Vervet alarm calls
Zurück zur ersten Seite
1: hardwired primate comunication
„iuuuu“
„aaargh“
„ugh ugh ugh“
„wih wih“
(examples invented!!)
Contact call: I‘m here, where are you?
Threat: I‘m ready to attack
Submissiveness: I‘m your servant
Alarm - snake: go for a tree!
„wuh wuh“
Alarm - eagle: leave treetops!
„wah wah“
Alarm - leopard: assemble in group!
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Zurück zur ersten Seite
2: Sensitivity for differences among
individual styles of vocalisation evolves


In large groups it is necessary to keep track of who-is-who.
As grooming became increasingly vocal, acoustic/articulatory
cues became increasingly important for identifying and
recognizing individuals.
„iuuuu“
„ioooo“


I (John) am here, where are you?
I (Jim) am here, where are you?
SIGNS MUST BECOME LEARNABLE
COMPOSITIONALITY MAY HAVE EVOLVED
i = [am here], uuuu = [John], oooo = [Jim]
Zurück zur ersten Seite
3: The learnability of signs makes the
number of signs explode

Once signs (i.e. form-meaning realtionships) cease to be fully
hardwired and children have to learn them through observation
instead, it is conceivable that they might attribute new
meanings also to signs which had been hitherto been
comparatively meaningless or to acquire novel meaning
distinctions.
„myam myam
„uooa“
food
I’m tired
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Physiological adaptations to the word
chimp
human
Zurück zur ersten Seite
4: The need for ever more signs leads to
physiological adaptations as well as to
the emergence of syntax and phonology



The human vocal tract acquires its present
shape, which is otherwise non-adaptive.
Sign-compositionality yields syntax
(AB = A + B)
Duality yields phonology
(AB = C)
The number of possible signs and combinations of such
‚soon‘ becomes practically infinite
Zurück zur ersten Seite
5: Linguistic signs become cultural
replicators



While vocal signs might once have been genetically
determined and neurally hardwired, they have now become
partly liberated from genetic and bodily control:
They are free to take a huge number of shapes and form a
huge number of patterns.
These patterns vary freely, and replicate independently of their
bodily substrates.
As systems of replicating and variable patterns, languages
become capable of history.
Zurück zur ersten Seite
6: Summary
Step 0: vocal signs hardwired
socialisation through grooming
Step 1: socialisation through vocal grooming
variable aspects of vocal signs become learnable
Step 2: vocal signs increasingly learnable
principle of signification generalised
info trade, thought experiments become possible
Step 3: language complexifies, acquires its modern shape
enormous number of possible signs and patterns
Step 3‘: possible signs compete for actualisation
language internal evolution begins
Zurück zur ersten Seite
What is the relation between universal
characteristics of human language and its
evolutionary origin?
The scenario outlines predicts that:

language should be variable in order to fulfil its social functions
(compatible with Chomsky but not in his spirit)

communicatively efficient and effective
(to minimise speaking costs and maximise speaking effects;
compatible with functionalist approaches)

able to represent information about the world
Zurück zur ersten Seite
TEXTS
A
E
trigger
result
in
Theories,
ideas,
abstract
knowledge
‘of’
INSTANCES OF LINGUISTIC
BEHAVIOUR
B
(productive and/or receptive)
informs
shapes
informs
constrains
C
INDIVIDUAL
consists of /
emerges from
LINGUISTIC
COMPETENCE
D
POOL/NETWORK
of
COMPETENCES
within a
COMMUNITY
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Der Kompetenz-Verhalten-Text-Zyklus
C1
B1
T1
changes into
informs
B
T
produces
informs
B
alters
changes into
produces
T
B
informs
alters
C
informs
changes into
informs
B
alters
C
informs
B
produces
C2
B2
T2
Zurück zur ersten Seite
informs
X4
X5
alters
X4
X5
X1
X3
X3
B
X2
X1
X1
X3
T1
X2
X2
X2
X1
C
informs
X4
X5
X3
B
produces
T2
X4
X5
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Transformational View of Language Change
Language as ‘Organism’, Language as ‘Social System’, etc. ...
A ‚wird zu‘ H
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Language as a Darwinian System
 Replicators: NEURAL CELL ASSEMBLIES that acquire their identities from
the way in which they are linked up with one another. They
‘represent’ linguistic elements from phonemes over words to
syntactic constituents or concepts. They govern linguistic
BEHAVIOUR and produce cultural artefacts, i.e. TEXTS.
BRAINS come equipped with a propensity to make sense of
their environment, including crucially texts. When they do so
the neural networks of which they consist SELF-ORGANISE
INTO structures that contain COPIES of the Cell Assemblies
which originally produced the texts. Thereby the former have
replicated.
 Imperfect Copying Fidelity inherent in the special type of replication.
 Differential Replication: Ease of production, ease of perception, learnability,
usefulness ... legions of well established factors
 External Limits on Sustainability: obvious limits on memory.
Zurück zur ersten Seite
Evolutionary View of Language Change
Languages as Populations of Neuronal Replicator Systems
A
G1
A
G2 A
A A
G3
A
G4 A
A A
A
G5
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
G6 A
A
A A A A
H
H
G7
H
G8 H
H
A
A
A A
H
H
H
A
A
A A
H
H
H
A
A
A A
H
H
H
A
A
A A
H
H
H
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A A A A A
H
H
H
A
A
A A
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
H
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
H
H
A
A A A
A
A
A
H
H
H
H
A
A A
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
A
A
A
H
H
H
A
A
A
A A A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A
A A A
H
H
H
H
H
R s that replicate before disintegrating
R s that disintegrate before replicating
Zurück zur ersten Seite
A
A
A
A
A
H
Descargar

Vorstellung - univie.ac.at