Language Evolution

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  • Created by: Eve
  • Created on: 25-04-13 11:47
Chomsky and language evolution
Arose suddenly. Innate learning device in brain.
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Pooh-Pooh Theory
Evolved from instinctive cries of pain and joy
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Bow-Wow Theory
Imitation of animal noises
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Yo-He-Ho Theory
Instinctive grunts from work.
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Co-evolution of language and brain. Languages evolved to be learnable. BUT: languages change more than brain
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Mirror system in brain shows high functioning imitation skills in humans
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In which ways is bird-song similar to human language?
Creativity. Sub-song stage is similar to babbling. Evidence of a critical period. Controlled by the left side of the brain. Songs are arbitrary signs.
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What distinguishes human language from animal communication
Recursion - applying rules to new words, creating sentences that we have never heard. Motives for communication - for social interaction not just survival. Control over vocal tract. Vocal tract is less fatty
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Discuss evidence from ape communication
Nim - learned ASL BUT there is evidence that it was mainly imitation and selective analysis of results. Apes share some of the cognitive skills as humans (pattern finding, imitation etc) but lack theory of mind.
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How did biological evolution allow for language?
Larger brain - extensive neural networks. Bi-pedalism allowed vocal chords to drop - more control over vocal chords
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What evidence can pidgins and creoles offer to an understanding of language evolution?
Could have been a combination of languages/sounds that formed a pidgin and then children added grammar to form a creole - or what we now see as a language
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Card 2


Pooh-Pooh Theory


Evolved from instinctive cries of pain and joy

Card 3


Bow-Wow Theory


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Card 4


Yo-He-Ho Theory


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