jueves, 24 de noviembre de 2016

Prehistoric languages… and prehistoric minds? (and II)

The three set of genes related to the globularization of the human skull/brain. See Boeckx and Benítez-Burraco 2014a,b and Benítez-Burraco and Boeckx 2015 for details. Source: Antonio Benítez-Burraco

New research can illuminate the history of our (linguistic) mind 

In my previous post I wrote about different tools and approaches that could help gain a better knowledge of prehistoric languages, ranging from linguistic theory to ecology. We expect them to illuminate the huge time window of roughly 190.000 years of language change that is essentially opaque to the traditional methods employed by historical linguistics. But as I also said, we have assumed that the human brain has remained the same since we emerged as a differentiated species. This is a core assumption of those who believe that biological evolution has nothing to say about linguistic change, like Chomskyan linguists. According to their view, prehistoric languages were similar to present day languages because they were the product of a modern brain. But it is also the assumption of those other who believe that the environment had some effect in shaping the languages we speak. According to their view cognitive modernity emerged first, and only later language started to gain complexity with time. [...] Psychology Today

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