Human language seems to have arisen roughly within the last 50-100,000
years. In evolutionary terms, this is the mere blink of an eye. If this is
correct, then much of what we consider distinctive to language must in fact
involve operations available in pre-linguistic cognitive domains. In this
book Norbert Hornstein, one of the most influential linguists working on
syntax, discusses a topical set of issues in syntactic theory, including a
number of original proposals at the cutting edge of research in this area.
He provides a theory of the basic grammatical operations and suggests that
there is only one that is distinctive to language. If this theory is
correct then this narrows the evolutionary gap between verbal and
non-verbal primates, thus facilitating the rapid evolutionary emergence of
our linguistic capacity.