Evolutionary Dynamics Do Not Motivate a Single-Mutant Theory of Human Language


I am not sure I agree with the logic of this study…

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How so? One thing is that they model this under frequency-independent conditions, and it seems to me that there would be a positive frequency dependence to the ability to use language; i.e. it works best when dealing with others who have that ability, and an isolated Merge mutant would have little or no advantage.


The logic of the study seems reasonable. But I am not a biologist, so don’t rely on my opinion.

If I look at it more in terms of my study of human cognition, then the conclusion of the study seems correct. I have long thought that Chomsky is seriously mistaken about language. Human language is driven by semantics, not by syntax (in my opinion).

To be fair, Chomsky’s syntactic analysis works well for formal languages. .So I would put my view in this form: “If language is to be defined in terms of the Chomskyan syntactic analysis, then human natural languages are not languages at all.”

We should look at a natural language as part of biology, not as part of logic.