Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-5

Date: Latest Version

Spontaneous Language


Creolization; Grammaticalizati​on; Language acquisition; Origin of language


Spontaneous language is the phenomenon in which all or part of a language is constructed based on innate assumptions combined with input from an environment that underspecifies the language. Input signals may be the product of a language or have a less formal source. The resulting language is consistent with the input, though it may not exactly reflect the process by which the input was generated.


Natural human language is a complex phenomenon, with individual and communal components. It consists of highly structured signals with rich semantics, transmitted through vocalizations, facial expressions, and manual gestures. Normal individuals each have a body of knowledge about their native language called I-language. At the community level, an E-language is the amalgam of the I-languages of all individuals and may not exactly match any individual’s I-language.

I-languages are constructed ...

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