About this topic
Summary If there were any, linguistic universals would be properties that were found in all languages (i.e. universally). One might consider questions about linguistic universals per se, that is, questions as they arise with respect to any possible language. However, it is more common to focus on such questions as they arise with respect to human languages, or human languages that are normally acquired, or acquirable, as first languages. The three main questions here are the following. First, are there any linguistic universals? Second, assuming that there are linguistic universals, what are they? Are there universals relating to grammar or syntax, for example an underlying Universal Grammar? Are their lexical universals, types of expressions, features of expressions, or constraints on expressions, found in all (human) languages? Third, if there are linguistic universals, how is this to be explained? Is it demonstrable a priori that there must be linguistic universals, or some specific range thereof, or are the universals explained e.g. by human biology or the natures of human-inhabited environments, including social environments? As the third question indicates, the issues about linguistic universals are closely connected with questions about innateness.
Key works Montague 1970 Development of an account of absolutely general features of language systems. Lewis 1975 An attempt to connect languages like those Montague attempts to characterise with actual speakers, via appeal to conventions. Chomsky 1995 Useful discussion by Chomsky of his views on language, including the existence of linguistic universals. Crain & Pietroski 2001 Useful overview of the case for innateness of some features of language that connects the issue with questions about linguistic universals. Marc et al 2002 Important recent work by Chomsky and others on the biological bases of language and the explanation for linguistic universals. Wierzbicka 1996 Important work that attempts to uncover a range of linguistic universals. Everett 2005 Argument that recent discoveries in anthropology undermine some claims about linguistic universals.
Introductions Baker, M. C. 2002. The Atoms of Language. Basic Books. Jackendoff 1994 Chomsky 1975 Matthews 2006
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504 found
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  1. Linguistic Universals and Particulars.Emmon Bach - manuscript
    Preconference version of paper for the 17th International Congress of Linguists in Prague, July, 2003.
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  2. Language Variation and Linguistic Invariants: A Unifying Perspective.Ed Keenan - manuscript
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  3. Quantification Across Bantu Languages.Manfred Krifka & Sabine Zerbian - manuscript
    to appear in Lisa Matthewson (ed.), Cross-linguistic perspectives on the semantics of quantification, Elsevier.
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  4. Machine Learning Theory and Practice as a Source of Insight Into Universal Grammar.Shalom Lappin with S. Shieber - manuscript
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  5. Topic States in Mandarin Discourse.Maria Bittner - forthcoming - In Michael Opper (ed.), Proceedings of the 25th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics. Ohio State University.
    I propose that Mandarin 。-sentences (units marked by 。) are aspectual topic-comment sequences, where an initial update (terminating in a pause) introduces a topic state for comment by one or more clauses. Each comment anaphorically refers to the topic state via the aspect feature of the verbal predicate. This proposal explains why Mandarin 。-sentences have controversial boundaries, since speakers may disagree where one topic state ends and the next one begins. It also explains various manifestations of aspect-prominence and topic-prominence in (...)
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  6. Language Acquisition in Croatian in Cross-Linguistic Perspective.Melita Kovačević - forthcoming - Mind.
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  7. An Explanation of the Veridical Uniformity Universal.Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - forthcoming - Journal of Semantics.
    A semantic universal, which we here dub the Veridical Uniformity Universal, has recently been argued to hold of responsive verbs (those that take both declarative and interrogative complements). This paper offers a preliminary explanation of this universal: verbs satisfying it are easier to learn than those that do not. This claim is supported by a computational experiment using artificial neural networks, mirroring a recent proposal for explaining semantic universals of quantifiers. This preliminary study opens up many avenues for future work (...)
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  8. Learnability and Semantic Universals.Shane Steinert-Threlkeld & Jakub Szymanik - forthcoming - Semantics and Pragmatics.
    One of the great successes of the application of generalized quantifiers to natural language has been the ability to formulate robust semantic universals. When such a universal is attested, the question arises as to the source of the universal. In this paper, we explore the hypothesis that many semantic universals arise because expressions satisfying the universal are easier to learn than those that do not. While the idea that learnability explains universals is not new, explicit accounts of learning that can (...)
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  9. Rethinking Language Faculty. Has Language Evolved for Other Than Language Related Reasons?Szymon Wróbel - forthcoming - Theoria Et Historia Scientiarum 9:201-215.
  10. IOP: Get It Straight.Ilexa Yardley - 2022 - Https://Medium.Com/the-Circular-Theory.
    IOP is, always, the tokenization of a naturally conserved circle. Meaning no information, no reality, no nothing. Observation always gets us the wrong answer (no such thing as a question, technically) (all questions are already answered) (the human imagines there are problems to solve) (because solving problems conserves an already-conserved circle) (everything is already 'answered') (else how could we ascertain the 'correct' answer?). Tokenization may appear as a transformation. But digging deeper we can observe (when we're ready) there is no (...)
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  11. Colour Categorization and Categorical Perception.Robert Briscoe - 2020 - In Derek Brown & Fiona Macpherson (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour. Routledge. pp. 456-474.
    In this chapter, I critically examine two of the main approaches to colour categorization in cognitive science: the perceptual salience theory and linguistic relativism. I then turn to reviewing several decades of psychological research on colour categorical perception (CP). A careful assessment of relevant findings suggests that most of the experimental effects that have been understood in terms of CP actually fall on the cognition side of the perception-cognition divide: they are effects of colour language, for example, on memory or (...)
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  12. Review of Agamben. [REVIEW]Subhasis Chattopadhyay - 2020 - Prabuddha Bharata or Awakened India 125 (6):517-19.
    Agamben is slowly entering the English academy. This review shows how Agamben's understanding of poetry can and should inform the eschatological nature of the lyric. The review does its cultural work by rethinking poetry and the poetic impulse. The book under review by Claire Colebrook and Jason Maxwell, prepare us for messianic times and shows how Agamben critiques the Spinozist-Marxist project. This book's weaknesses lie in Agamben's hubris in glibly going on to write on Hinduism. & Colebrook and Mason have (...)
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  13. On the Individuation of Words.J. T. M. Miller - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (8):875-884.
    ABSTRACT The idea that two words can be instances of the same word is a central intuition in our conception of language. This fact underlies many of the claims that we make about how we communicate, and how we understand each other. Given this, irrespective of what we think words are, it is common to think that any putative ontology of words, must be able to explain this feature of language. That is, we need to provide criteria of identity for (...)
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  14. Can There Be a Chinese Philosophy? -- A Review of Searle's Philosophy and Chinese Philosophy--Bo Mou Ed 440p (2008)(Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In The Logical Structure of Human Behavior. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 445-473.
    This book is invaluable as a synopsis of some of the work of one the greatest philosophers of recent times. There is much value in analyzing his responses to the basic confusions of philosophy, and in the generally excellent attempts to connect classical Chinese thought to modern philosophy. I take a modern Wittgensteinian view to place it in perspective. This book is a unique attempt to correlate classical Chinese philosophy with that of Searle (S), whom I regard as the best (...)
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  15. Review of The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker (2008) (Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In Talking Monkeys -- Philosophy, Psychology, Science, Religion and Politics on a Doomed Planet -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 Michael Starks 3rd Edition. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 254-267.
    I start with some famous comments by the philosopher (psychologist) Ludwig Wittgenstein because Pinker shares with most people (due to the default settings of our evolved innate psychology) certain prejudices about the functioning of the mind, and because Wittgenstein offers unique and profound insights into the workings of language, thought and reality (which he viewed as more or less coextensive) not found anywhere else. There is only reference to Wittgenstein in this volume, which is most unfortunate considering that he was (...)
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  16. La estructura lógica del comportamiento humano.Michael Starks - 2019 - Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press.
    Mi afirmación es que la tabla de intencionalidad (racionalidad, mente, pensamiento, lenguaje, personalidad, etc.) que se presenta aquí describe de forma prominente más o menos precisa, o al menos sirve como una heurística para, cómo pensamos y comportamos, y por lo que abarca no meramente filosofía y psicología, pero todo lo demás (historia, literatura, matemáticas, política, etc.). Tenga en cuenta especialmente que la intencionalidad y la racionalidad como yo (junto con Searle, Wittgenstein y otros) lo ve, incluye tanto deliberativo consciente (...)
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  17. Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century -- Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 4th Edition.Michael Starks (ed.) - 2019 - Las Vegas , NV USA: Reality Press.
    The first group of articles attempt to give some insight into how we behave that is reasonably free of theoretical delusions. In the next three groups I comment on three of the principal delusions preventing a sustainable world— technology, religion and politics (cooperative groups). People believe that society can be saved by them, so I provide some suggestions in the rest of the book as to why this is unlikely via short articles and reviews of recent books by well-known writers. (...)
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  18. Review of Culture and Value by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1980) (Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In The Logical Structure of Human Behavior. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 325-327.
    This is Wittgenstein´s least interesting book, being only random notes dealing with art, music, religion and other areas of culture, taken from his notebooks over the course of his life. But W is never dull and it's a measure of the awe in which he is held that this book was even published. I can´t imagine publishing such a book by anyone else; certainly no philosopher. Those interested in W should go to nearly any of the other 20,000 odd pages (...)
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  19. The Foundation Stone of Psychology and Philosophy--A Critical Review of 'On Certainty' by Ludwig Wittgenstein (1969) (1951). (Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In The Logical Structure of Human Behavior. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 110-141.
    A critical review of Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' which he wrote in 1950-51 and was first published in 1969. Most of the review is spent presenting a modern framework for philosophy (the descriptive psychology of higher order thought) and positioning the work of Wittgenstein and John Searle in this framework and relative to the work of others. It is suggested that this book can be regarded as the foundation stone of psychology and philosophy as it was the first to describe the (...)
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  20. Delving Deeper Into Color Space.Yasmina Jraissati & Igor Douven - 2018 - I-Perception 9 (4):1-27.
    So far, color-naming studies have relied on a rather limited set of color stimuli. Most importantly, stimuli have been largely limited to highly saturated colors. Because of this, little is known about how people categorize less saturated colors and, more generally, about the structure of color categories as they extend across all dimensions of color space. This article presents the results from a large Internet-based color-naming study that involved color stimuli ranging across all available chroma levels in Munsell space. These (...)
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  21. Review of 'John R Searle-Thinking About the Real World' by Franken Et Al Eds. (2010).Michael Starks - 2017 - Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization Michael Starks 3rd Ed. (2017).
    This book is the result of Searle's stay in the Munster University Philosophy Dept in 2009 and all the papers except his introductory one and his final response are from persons associated with Munster. However all the papers were written or revised later and so are one of the most up to date looks at his views available as of mid 2013. S has in my view made more fundamental contributions to higher order descriptive psychology (philosophy) than anyone since Wittgenstein (...)
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  22. Culture, Language and Thought: Field Studies on Colour Concepts.Arnold Groh - 2016 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 16 (1-2):83–106.
    In a series of studies the assumption of a lack of colour concepts in indigenous societies, as proposed by Berlin & Kay (1969) and others, was examined. The research took place in the form of minimally invasive field encounters with indigenous subjects in South East Asia and in India, as well as in West, Central, and South Africa. Subjects were screened for colour blindness with Ishihara- and Pflüger-Trident-Test. Standardised colour tablets had to be designated in the indigenous languages; these terms (...)
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  23. The Oxford Handbook of Universal Grammar.Ian Roberts (ed.) - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    This handbook provides a critical guide to the most central proposition in modern linguistics: the notion, generally known as Universal Grammar, that a universal set of structural principles underlies the grammatical diversity of the world's languages. Part I considers the implications of Universal Grammar for philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language, and examines the history of the theory. Part II focuses on linguistic theory, looking at topics such as explanatory adequacy and how phonology and semantics fit into Universal (...)
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  24. Is There Such a Thing as Pragmatics?--Review of Concise Encyclopedia of Pragmatics 2nd Ed (2009).Michael Starks - 2016 - In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century: Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization-- Articles and Reviews 2006-2017 2nd Edition Feb 2018. Michael Starks. pp. 381-399.
    Clearly neither I nor anyone will ever read any substantial part of this massive tome so I will discuss the one article that interests me most and which I think provides the framework necessary for the understanding of all the rest. I refer to the one on Ludwig Wittgenstein (W). Even were I to try to discuss others, we would not get past the first page as all the issues here arise immediately in any discussion of behavior. The differentiation of (...)
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  25. Island Constraints and Overgeneralization in Language Acquisition.Ben Ambridge - 2015 - Cognitive Linguistics 26 (2):361-370.
    Name der Zeitschrift: Cognitive Linguistics Jahrgang: 26 Heft: 2 Seiten: 361-370.
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  26. The Philosophy of Universal Grammar, by Wolfram Hinzen and Michelle Sheehan. [REVIEW]John Collins - 2015 - Mind 124 (493):342-347.
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  27. Arbitrariness, Iconicity, and Systematicity in Language.Mark Dingemanse, Damián E. Blasi, Gary Lupyan, Morten H. Christiansen & Padraic Monaghan - 2015 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 19 (10):603-615.
    The notion that the form of a word bears an arbitrary relation to its meaning accounts only partly for the attested relations between form and meaning in the languages of the world. Recent research suggests a more textured view of vocabulary structure, in which arbitrariness is complemented by iconicity (aspects of form resemble aspects of meaning) and systematicity (statistical regularities in forms predict function). Experimental evidence suggests these form-to-meaning correspondences serve different functions in language processing, development, and communication: systematicity facilitates (...)
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  28. Medytacje filozoficzne.Mateusz Falkowski & Anton Marczyński (eds.) - 2015 - Warsaw: Barbara Skarga Foundation for Thinking.
    -/- Medytacje filozoficzne, Fundacja na Rzecz Myślenia im. Barbary Skargi, Warszawa 2015. -/- Publikacja współfinansowana przez Muzeum Łazienki Królewskie w Warszawie. -/- Zbiór tekstów powstałych na podstawie wykładów, które zostały wygłoszone w ramach cyklu "Medytacje filozoficzne w Łazienkach" w latach 2013-2015. -/- -/- Spis treści: -/- Cezary Wodziński, Premedytacja Krzysztof Pomian, O wyjątkowości człowieka Zygmunt Bauman, O miłości i nienawiści… Tropami Barbary Skargi Tadeusz Sławek, Ciemne liturgie. Język, historia i gest błogosławieństwa Lech Witkowski, Rozprawa z autorytetem: w strone autorytu przejścia (...)
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  29. Vision Verbs Dominate in Conversation Across Cultures, but the Ranking of Non-Visual Verbs Varies.Lila San Roque, Kobin H. Kendrick, Elisabeth Norcliffe, Penelope Brown, Rebecca Defina, Mark Dingemanse, Tyko Dirksmeyer, N. J. Enfield, Simeon Floyd, Jeremy Hammond, Giovanni Rossi, Sylvia Tufvesson, Saskia van Putten & Asifa Majid - 2015 - Cognitive Linguistics 26 (1):31-60.
    To what extent does perceptual language reflect universals of experience and cognition, and to what extent is it shaped by particular cultural preoccupations? This paper investigates the universality~relativity of perceptual language by examining the use of basic perception terms in spontaneous conversation across 13 diverse languages and cultures. We analyze the frequency of perception words to test two universalist hypotheses: that sight is always a dominant sense, and that the relative ranking of the senses will be the same across different (...)
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  30. What Do Quantifier Particles Do?Anna Szabolcsi - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (2):159-204.
    In many languages, the same particles that form quantifier words also serve as connectives, additive and scalar particles, question markers, roots of existential verbs, and so on. Do these have a unified semantics, or do they merely bear a family resemblance? Are they aided by silent operators in their varied roles―if yes, what operators? I dub the particles “quantifier particles” and refer to them generically with capitalized versions of the Japanese morphemes. I argue that both MO and KA can be (...)
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  31. Carey Grammar School.Richard Taylor & Michael Fitzpatrick - 2015 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 45 (3):427-431.
    Many senior managers in schools see the acquisition and implementation of new information and communication technologies as key drivers in the advancement of their schools. Over the last 20 years pioneering schools, such as Carey Grammar School in Melbourne, Australia have invested heavily in ICTs and created communities of digitally rich individuals. However, the extent to which these schools can be considered to have the attributes of a digital society, where there are shared beliefs, policies and practices with respect to (...)
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  32. Temporality: Universals and Variation.Maria Bittner - 2014 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    This book surveys the ways in which languages of different types refer to past, present, and future events and how these referents are related to the knowledge and attitudes of discourse participants. The book is the culmination of fifteen years of research by the author. Four major language types are examined in-depth: tense-based English, tense-aspect-based Polish, aspect-based Chinese, and mood-based Kalaallisut. Each contributes to a series of logical representation languages, which together define a common logical language that is argued to (...)
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  33. Making New Ideophones in Siwu: Creative Depiction in Conversation.Mark Dingemanse - 2014 - Pragmatics and Society 5 (3):384-405.
    Ideophones are found in many of the world’s languages. Though they are a major word class on a par with nouns and verbs, their origins are ill-understood, and the question of ideophone creation has been a source of controversy. This paper studies ideophone creation in naturally occurring speech. New, unconventionalised ideophones are identified using native speaker judgements, and are studied in context to understand the rules and regularities underlying their production and interpretation. People produce and interpret new ideophones with the (...)
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  34. Philosophy and Linguistic Relativity.Sven Ove Hansson - 2014 - Theoria 80 (3):201-204.
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  35. Pragmatic Development in First Language Acquisition.Danielle Matthews (ed.) - 2014
    Pragmatic development is increasingly seen as the foundation stone of language acquisition more generally. From very early on, children demonstrate a strong desire to understand and be understood that motivates the acquisition of lexicon and grammar and enables ever more effective communication. In the 35 years since the first edited volume on the topic, a flourishing literature has reported on the broad set of skills that can be called pragmatic. This volume aims to bring that literature together in a digestible (...)
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  36. ZhaoHong Han and Teresa Cadierno (Eds), Linguistic Relativity in SLA: Thinking for Speaking.Jacob L. Mey - 2014 - Pragmatics and Society 5 (1):156-163.
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  37. Effects of Imprinted Genes on the Development of Communicative Behavior: A Hypothesis. [REVIEW]Harry Smit - 2013 - Biological Theory 7 (3):247-255.
    The kinship theory of genomic imprinting predicts that imprinted genes affect parent–child and child–child interactions. During prenatal and neonatal stages, patrigenes promote selfish and matrigenes altruistic behavior. Models predict that this imprinted gene expression pattern is reversed starting with the juvenile stage. This article explores possible effects of imprinted genes on nonverbal and simple and complex linguistic behaviors before and after the reversal. A hypothesis is discussed that is based on the observation language evolved as a new form of communicative (...)
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  38. Chomsky's Biolinguistic Approach to Mind and Language.Mihaela Călinescu - 2012 - Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations 11:91-96.
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  39. Paul Broca and the Evolutionary Genetics of Cerebral Asymmetry.Tim J. Crow - 2012 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 70:133-147.
    In 1873, within two years of the publication of The Descent of Man, Friedrich Max Mueller wrote: There is one difficulty which Mr Darwin has not sufficiently appreciated … There is between the whole animal kingdom on the one side, and man, even in his lowest state, on the other, a barrier which no animal has ever crossed, and that barrier is – Language … If anything has a right to the name of specific difference, it is language, as we (...)
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  40. Grammar as a Developmental Phenomenon.Guy Dove - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):615-637.
    More and more researchers are examining grammar acquisition from theoretical perspectives that treat it as an emergent phenomenon. In this essay, I argue that a robustly developmental perspective provides a potential explanation for some of the well-known crosslinguistic features of early child language: the process of acquisition is shaped in part by the developmental constraints embodied in von Baer’s law of development. An established model of development, the Developmental Lock, captures and elucidates the probabilistic generalizations at the heart of von (...)
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  41. Flexible Letter-Position Coding is Unlikely to Hold for Morphologically Rich Languages.Jukka Hyönä & Raymond Bertram - 2012 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (5):290-291.
    We agree with Frost that flexible letter-position coding is unlikely to be a universal property of word recognition across different orthographies. We argue that it is particularly unlikely in morphologically rich languages like Finnish. We also argue that dual-route models are not overly flexible and that they are well equipped to adapt to the linguistic environment at hand.
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  42. The Communicative Function of Ambiguity in Language.Steven T. Piantadosi, Harry Tily & Edward Gibson - 2012 - Cognition 122 (3):280-291.
  43. The Recursive Mind. The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization, de Michael C. Corballis.María Jesus Martínez Rosas - 2012 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 31 (1):151-154.
  44. How Languages Construct Time.Lera Boroditsky - 2011 - In Stanislas Dehaene & Elizabeth Brannon (eds.), Space, Time and Number in the Brain. Oxford University Press. pp. 333--341.
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  45. An Analysis of Three Japanese Tags: Ne, Yone, and Daroo.Yuko Asano Cavanagh - 2011 - Pragmatics and Cognition 19 (3):448-475.
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  46. Modals Without Scales.Amy Rose Deal - 2011 - Language 87 (3):559-585.
    Some natural languages do not lexically distinguish between modals of possibility and modals of necessity. From the perspective of languages like English, modals in such languages appear to do double duty: they are used both where possibility modals are expected and where necessity modals are expected. The Nez Perce modal suffix o’qa offers an example of this behavior. I offer a simple account of the flexibility of the o’qa modal centered on the absence of scalar implicatures. O’qa is a possibility (...)
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  47. Ezra Pound Among the Mawu: Ideophones and Iconicity in Siwu.Mark Dingemanse - 2011 - In Pascal Michelucci, Olga Fischer & Ljungberg Christina (eds.), Semblance and Signification. John Benjamins. pp. 39-54.
    The Mawu people of eastern Ghana make common use of ideophones: marked words that depict sensory imagery. Ideophones have been described as “poetry in ordinary language,” yet the shadow of Lévy-Bruhl, who assigned such words to the realm of primitivity, has loomed large over linguistics and literary theory alike. The poet Ezra Pound is a case in point: while his fascination with Chinese characters spawned the ideogrammic method, the mimicry and gestures of the “primitive languages in Africa” were never more (...)
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  48. Universal Grammar and the Baldwin Effect: A Hypothesis and Some Philosophical Consequences.Shane Nicholas Glackin - 2011 - Biology and Philosophy 26 (2):201-222.
    Grammar is now widely regarded as a substantially biological phenomenon, yet the problem of language evolution remains a matter of controversy among Linguists, Cognitive Scientists, and Evolutionary Theorists alike. In this paper, I present a new theoretical argument for one particular hypothesis—that a Language Acquisition Device of the sort first posited by Noam Chomsky might have evolved via the so-called Baldwin Effect . Close attention to the workings of that mechanism, I argue, helps to explain a previously mysterious feature of (...)
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  49. Input Distribution Influences Degree of Auxiliary Use by Children with Specific Language Impairment.Laurence B. Leonard & Patricia Deevy - 2011 - Cognitive Linguistics 22 (2).
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  50. But is It Evolution…?Roger J. Sullivan & Edward H. Hagen - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (6):322-323.
    We applaud Müller & Schumann (M&S) for bringing needed attention to the problem of motivation for common non-addictive drug use, as opposed to the usual focus on exotic drugs and addiction. Unfortunately, their target article has many underdeveloped and sometimes contradictory ideas. Here, we will focus on three key issues.
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