By T. Givón
Is human language an evolutionary edition? Is linguistics a traditional technological know-how? those questions have bedeviled philosophers, philologists and linguists from Plato via Chomsky. Givon means that the solutions fall obviously inside of an built-in research of residing organisms. during this paintings, Givon issues out that language operates among facets of either advanced organic layout and adaptive behaviour. As in biology, the entire is an adaptive compromise to competing calls for. version is the vital device of studying, switch and version. The distinction among innateness and input-driven emergence is an interplay among genetically-coded and behaviourally-coded adventure. In enlarging the cross-disciplinary area, the booklet examines the parallels among language evolution and language diachrony. Sociality, cooperation and communique are proven to be rooted in a standard evolutionary resource, the kin-based hunting-and-gathering society of intimates. The publication can pay homage to the past due Joseph Greenberg and his visionary integration of practical motivation, typological variety and diachronic swap.
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Additional info for Bio-linguistics: The Santa Barbara Lectures
4). The contrast between grammatical and pre-grammatical communication proves rather revealing, highlighting the adaptive nature of grammar. Some of the more salient structural, functional and cognitive diﬀerences between the two modes of communication are summarized in (13) below. Language as a bio-adaptation (13) Pre-grammatical vs. grammatical communication: (after Givón 1979a, 1989, 1995) properties grammatical pre-grammatical abundant complex/embedded grammatical (subj/obj) ﬂuent absent simple/conjoined pragmatic (topic/comment) halting fast eﬀortless lower lower slow laborious higher higher automated late late attended early early Structural: a.
Language as a bio-adaptation (7) Colorless green ideas sleep furiously The meaning incongruities that make proposition (7) bizarre — ‘colorless green’, ‘green ideas’, ‘ideas sleep’, ‘sleep furiously’ — are all due to the semantic speciﬁcity of individual words. The relation between lexical meaning and propositional information is thus one of inclusion, or one-way conditional. That is: One can understand the meaning of words independent of the proposition in which they are embedded; but one cannot understand a proposition without understanding the meaning of the words that make it up.
But this was only possible because each source construction shares some functional features with the passive, in some relevant sub-domain of de-transitivity: The adjectival construction in English, like a typical passive, is agentless and topicalizes the patient. The Ute VP nominalization, like a typical passive, is agentless and (by default) topicalizes a non-agent. 25 26 Bio-Linguistics The Spanish reﬂexive, like the passive, has a non-distinct agent and (by default) topicalizes a non-agent. The Kimbundu L-dislocation topicalizes the patient, and the impersonal ‘they’ suppresses the agent.