Comic 6 - Evolutionary Biologists vs. Evolutionary Linguists

10th Apr 2014, 12:53 AM
Evolutionary Biologists vs. Evolutionary Linguists
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remivt 10th Apr 2014, 12:53 AM edit delete
There is a widespread myth in the evolutionary linguistics community that in order to understand the evolution of the language faculty (i.e. where our capacity to learn and use language comes from), you don't need to care about how real languages actually evolve.

My own article, "Fitness landscapes in cultural language evolution: a case study on German definite articles" was criticized by its reviewers for being about "language change" rather than "language evolution"; and almost did not make it for this year's Evolang conference.

Biologists would find this kind of reasoning completely bizarre, because in order to understand evolution, surely you have to look at concrete cases of how species change over time?

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