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The Evolutionary Emergence of LanguageEvidence and Inference$
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Rudolf Botha and Martin Everaert

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654840

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654840.001.0001

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Language has evolved to depend on multiple-cue integration

Language has evolved to depend on multiple-cue integration

(p.42) 3 Language has evolved to depend on multiple-cue integration
The Evolutionary Emergence of Language

Morten H. Christiansen

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that language has evolved to rely on a multitude of probabilistic information sources for its acquisition, allowing language to be as expressive as possible while still being learnable by domain-general mechanisms. Crucially, though, this perspective does not deny the existence of genetic constraints on language but instead questions the presupposition that these necessarily have to be linguistic in nature. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 3.2 discusses how this proposal has important theoretical ramifications for how we should think about language. Section 3.3 introduces the notion of multiple-cue integration in language acquisition and processing, using the role of phonological information in syntax learning as an extended case study. Finally, Section 3.4 considers the implications of this perspective for how we should construe the species-specificity of language and cross-linguistic similarities.

Keywords:   language evolution, language acquisition, multiple cues, integration, language processing, phonological information, syntax learning

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