Evolution of Language. Continuity and Discontinuity through Models and Empirical Data

Alessandra Falzone

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/ths.2019.004


Abstract. Over the last years, the debate about language evolution has been dominated by functionalist models looking for continuity among various animal species to understand language evolution and its nature. In this work, I analyze the theoretical mistakes of such approach, that ignoring structural body transformation does not allow the application of evolutionary methods to the study of functions. Here I propose a naturalistic approach, based on Evo-Devo perspective, which considers biological constraints as the necessary “mechanical trigger” upon which language function could have evolved. This framework, through the examination of the comparative study of the peripheral and central structures of vocal articulation, allows us to both avoid functional leap in language evolution and at the same time,guarantee species-specificity of language.


language evolution; mechanical trigger; evo-devo; structural continuity

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