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Evolutionary Syntax - Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language 20 (Paperback)
  • Evolutionary Syntax - Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language 20 (Paperback)
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Evolutionary Syntax - Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language 20 (Paperback)

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£26.49
Paperback 280 Pages / Published: 04/06/2015
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In this book, Ljiljana Progovac proposes a gradualist, adaptationist approach to the evolution of syntax, subject to natural selection. She provides a specific framework for its study, combining the fields of evolutionary biology, theoretical syntax, typology, neuroscience, and genetics. The author pursues an internal reconstruction of the stages of grammar based on the syntactic theory associated with Chomskyan Minimalism and arrives at specific, testable hypotheses, which are then corroborated by an abundance of theoretically analysed 'living fossils' drawn from a variety of languages. Her approach demonstrates that these fossil structures do not just coexist alongside more modern structures, but are in fact built into the very foundation of more complex structures, leading to quirks and complexities that are suggestive of a gradualist evolutionary scenario. By reconstructing a particular path along which syntax evolved, Evolutionary Syntax sheds light on the crucial properties of language design itself, as well as on the major parameters of crosslinguistic variation. As a result, this reconstruction can be meaningfully correlated with both the hominin timeline and the ever-growing body of genetic evidence that is available.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198736554
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 447 g
Dimensions: 235 x 157 x 16 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Evolutionary Syntax is a major contribution to the literature. It offers a novel gradualist account of the evolution of syntax, grounded in a thorough consideration of a range of linguistic phenomena. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the origin and evolution of the human capacity for language. * Brady Clark, Northwestern University *
This is the book that brings Chomsky and Darwin together, arguing that the basic tenets of the minimalist program and its hierarchic sentence structure support a gradualist approach to the evolution of language motivated by natural selection. A must read for linguists of diverse persuasions, demonstrating to theoretical syntacticians the relevance of evolution to the architecture of grammar, while suggesting to students of the evolution of language that valuable insights may be on offer from the minimalist approach. Grammarians will also find novel analyses of "syntactic fossils" such as compounds, root small clauses, and thetic statements in this well-written book that is hard to put down. * David Gil, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology *

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