Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$33698

Still Needed:

$41302

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.


Academic Paper


Title: Scavenging, the stag hunt, and the evolution of language
Author: Brady Z Clark
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Northwestern University
Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories
Abstract: This article evaluates Derek Bickerton's 2009 theory of language evolution. Bickerton argues that language was the result of a need to recruit individuals to help in the scavenging of carcasses of megafauna. The signals used for recruitment at the earliest stage of language evolution were iconic and could be used to refer to objects outside the sensory range of the receiver(s). Bickerton's scenario is an example of what is described in game theory as a stag hunt. We can, by recasting Bickerton's scenario as a stag hunt, identify criteria that any account of the transition to language must satisfy. There are several hurdles we would need to jump over to demonstrate that Bickerton's model is valid. First, not much is known about early hominin scavenging. While the available evidence is compatible with Bickerton's scenario, it is compatible with other scenarios as well. Second, Bickerton argues that, at the initial stage of language evolution, signals were grounded in salient aspects of the environment. The empirical support for natural salience as a determinant of the communication systems used at the earliest stages of language evolution is mixed at best; communication systems can arise spontaneously in the absence of natural salience. Third, maintaining communication systems is nontrivial because of the incentive to deceive.

CUP at LINGUIST

This article appears in Journal of Linguistics Vol. 47, Issue 2, which you can read on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



Back
Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page