The Emergence of Linguistic Structure: An Overview of the Iterated Learning Model

  • Simon Kirby
  • James R. Hurford

Abstract

As language users humans possess a culturally transmitted system of unparalleled complexity in the natural world. Linguistics has revealed over the past 40 years the degree to which the syntactic structure of language in particular is strikingly complex. Furthermore, as Pinker and Bloom point out in their agenda-setting paper Natural Language and Natural Selection “grammar is a complex mechanism tailored to the transmission of propositional structures through a serial interface” (Pinker and Bloom, 1990: 707). These sorts of observations, along with influential arguments from linguistics and psychology about the innateness of language (see Chomsky, 1986; Pinker, 1994), have led many authors to the conclusion that an explanation for the origin of syntax must invoke neo-Darwinian natural selection.

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© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Kirby
  • James R. Hurford

There are no affiliations available

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