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LINGUIST List 19.2128

Thu Jul 03 2008

Books: Cognitive Science/Neurolinguistics/LinguisticTheories: Moro

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>

Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.
        1.    Diane Denner, The Boundaries of Babel: Moro

Message 1: The Boundaries of Babel: Moro
Date: 01-Jul-2008
From: Diane Denner <dennermit.edu>
Subject: The Boundaries of Babel: Moro
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Title: The Boundaries of Babel
Subtitle: The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages
Series Title: Current Studies in Linguistics
Published: 2008
Publisher: MIT Press

Book URL: http://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262134989

Author: Andrea Moro
Hardback: ISBN: 0262134985 9780262134989 Pages: 257 Price: U.S. $ 35.00

In The Boundaries of Babel, Andrea Moro tells the story of an encounter
between two cultures: contemporary theoretical linguistics and the
cognitive neurosciences. The study of language within a biological context
has been ongoing for more than fifty years. The development of neuroimaging
technology offers new opportunities to enrich the "biolinguistic
perspective" and extend it beyond an abstract framework for inquiry. As a
leading theoretical linguist in the generative tradition and also a
cognitive scientist schooled in the new imaging technology, Moro is
uniquely equipped to explore this.

Moro examines what he calls the "hidden" revolution in contemporary
science: the discovery that the number of possible grammars is not infinite
and that their number is biologically limited. This radical but
little-discussed change in the way we look at language, he claims, will
require us to rethink not just the fundamentals of linguistics and
neurosciences but also our view of the human mind. Moro searches for
neurobiological correlates of "the boundaries of Babel"--the constraints on
the apparent chaotic variation in human languages--by using an original
experimental design based on artificial languages. He offers a critical
overview of some of the fundamental results from linguistics over the last
fifty years, in particular regarding syntax, then uses these essential
aspects of language to examine two neuroimaging experiments in which he
took part. He describes the two neuroimaging techniques used (positron
emission topography, or PET, and functional magnetic resonance imaging, or
fMRI), but makes it clear that techniques and machines do not provide
interesting data without a sound theoretical framework. Finally, he
discusses some speculative aspects of modern research in biolinguistics
regarding the impact of the linear structure of linguistics expression on
grammar, and more generally, some core aspects of language acquisition,
genetics, and evolution.

"Andrea Moro has gained a unique position in formulating and implementing
constructive approaches to… difficult and demanding tasks. He is able to
address them with a deep understanding of modern linguistics, a field to
which he has made a major contribution of his own, and mastery of the
relevant technology and its potential. His new book is a lucid introduction
to these exciting areas, superbly informed and imaginatively presented,
with intriguing implications well beyond biolinguistics... A rare
--Noam Chomsky, from the foreword

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
                            Linguistic Theories

Written In: English (eng )

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Brill http://www.brill.nl
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Cascadilla Press http://www.cascadilla.com/
Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd http://www.continuumbooks.com
Edinburgh University Press http://www.eup.ed.ac.uk/
Elsevier Ltd http://www.elsevier.com/linguistics
Emerald Group Publishing Limited http://www.emeraldinsight.com/
Equinox Publishing Ltd http://www.equinoxpub.com/
European Language Resources Association - ELRA http://www.elra.info.
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Hodder Education http://www.hoddereducation.co.uk
John Benjamins http://www.benjamins.com/
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MIT Press http://mitpress.mit.edu/
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