Posts

November 10, 2014

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8:20 PM | Book Preview: Speaking Our Minds
This is a guest post by Thom Scott-Phillips, previewing his new book, ‘Speaking Our Minds: Why Human Communication Is Different, And How Language Evolved To Make It Special’, which has just been published by Palgrave MacMillan. Research in language evolution does not pay much attention to pragmatics – the study of the communicative basis of language use. By […]

November 08, 2014

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6:24 PM | Terminology for Cultural Evolution: Coordinators and Phantasms
I’ve decided that it is time for some new terms. I’ve been using “meme” as the cultural analog for the biological “gene”, which is more or less the use that Dawkins had in mind when he coined the term. But I’ve decided to scrap it. I also need a term for the cultural analog to […]

November 07, 2014

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6:01 PM | Book Review: The Nature and Origin of Language (Bouchard 2013)
This review appeared originally in the LINGUIST List at http://linguistlist.org/issues/25/25-4460.html Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/25/25-1636.html AUTHOR: Denis Bouchard TITLE: The Nature and Origin of Language SUBTITLE: First Edition SERIES TITLE: Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2013 REVIEWER: Hannah Little, Vrije Universiteit Brussel Review’s Editors: Malgorzata Cavar and Sara Couture […]

November 04, 2014

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10:58 AM | How to speak stone-age bullshit
This is a guest post by Christine Cuskley. As a general rule, there is much that is very badly written about specialist academic disciplines. From farts curing cancer to hot wet aliens, academic research often isn’t well-represented in popular outlets. Research on language and language evolution are no exception. So, generally, people who spend their […]

October 25, 2014

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12:41 PM | John Lawler on Generative Grammar
From a Facebook conversation with Dan Everett (about slide rules, aka slipsticks, no less) and others: The constant revision and consequent redefining and renaming of concepts – some imaginary and some very obvious – has led to a multi-dimensional spectrum of heresy in generative grammar, so complex that one practically needs chromatography to distinguish variants. […]
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