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The Interactional Instinct – The Evolution and Acquisition of Language - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Interactional Instinct: The Evolution and Acquisition of Language

Namhee Lee, Lisa Mikesell, Anna Dina L. Joaquin, Andrea W. Mates, and John H. Schumann


This book explores a theory of language evolution as a complex adaptive system that exists as a cultural artifact without any requirement for innate abstract grammatical representations. Language acquisition is seen as an emotionally driven process relying on innately specified “interactional instinct.” This genetically-based tendency provides neural structures that entrain children acquiring their native language to the faces, voices, and body movements of conspecific caregivers. It is essentially an innate attentional and motivational system, which drives children to pay attention to the lan ... More

Keywords: language, evolution, complex adaptive system, interactional instinct, general learning mechanisms, language acquisition, second-language learning, aptitude

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780195384246
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384246.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Namhee Lee, author

Lisa Mikesell, author

Anna Dina L. Joaquin, author