This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
This book provides an analysis of two current theories of language acquisition: the theory that acquisition is primarily mediated by innate properties of language provided by universal grammar, and the opposing theory is that language is acquired based on the patterns in the ambient language. A problem not often considered is that these two theories are confounded because the structures that are frequent across languages are also typically the most frequent within a specific language. In addition, the innate theory of language acquisition is difficult to quantify and qualify. This book attempts to contrast these theories through an examination of the acquisition of word-final consonants in English. A unique aspect of this book is that it presents analyzes of data using cross-linguistic, corpus and experimental approaches.