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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information


Title: The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity
Subtitle: Diachrony, ontogeny, neuro-cognition, evolution
Written By: T. Givón

Complex hierarchic syntax is a hallmark of human language. The highest
level of syntactic complexity, recursive-embedded clauses, has been singled
out by some for a special status as the evolutionary apex of the uniquely -
human language faculty - evolutionary yet mysteriously immune to Darwinian
adaptive selection. Prof. Givón's book treats syntactic complexity as an
integral part of the evolutionary rise of human communication. The book
first describes grammar as an adaptive instrument of communication,
assembled upon the pre-existing platform of pre-linguistic object-
and-event cognition and mental representation. It then surveys the two
grand developmental trends of human language: diachrony, the
communal enterprise directly responsible for fashioning synchronic
morpho-syntax and cross-language diversity; and ontogeny, the
individual endeavor directly responsible for acquiring the competent use of
grammar. The genesis of syntactic complexity along these two developmental
trends is compared with second language acquisition, pre-grammatical pidgin
and pre-human communication. The evolutionary relevance of language
diachrony, language ontogeny and pidginization is argued for on general
bio-evolutionary grounds: It is the organism's adaptive on-line
- invention, learning and skill acquisition - that is the
common thread running through all three developmental trends. The
neuro-cognitive circuits that underlie language, and their evolutionary
underpinnings, are described and assessed. Recursive embedding turns out to
be not an adaptive target on its own, but the by-product of two distinct
adaptive moves: (i) the recruitment of conjoined clauses as modal operators
on, or referential specifiers of, other clauses; and (ii) the subsequent
condensation of paratactic into syntactic structures.

Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: John Benjamins
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BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
Language Acquisition
Cross-Cultural Communication
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Format: Electronic
ISBN-13: 9789027290052
Prices: U.S. $ 165.00
Europe EURO 110.00
Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9789027232533
Prices: Europe EURO 110.00
U.S. $ 165.00
Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9789027232540
Prices: Europe EURO 36.00
U.S. $ 54.00