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  1. Iconicity and the Emergence of Combinatorial Structure in Language.Tessa Verhoef, Simon Kirby & Bart Boer - 2016 - Cognitive Science 40 (8):1969-1994.
    In language, recombination of a discrete set of meaningless building blocks forms an unlimited set of possible utterances. How such combinatorial structure emerged in the evolution of human language is increasingly being studied. It has been shown that it can emerge when languages culturally evolve and adapt to human cognitive biases. How the emergence of combinatorial structure interacts with the existence of holistic iconic form-meaning mappings in a language is still unknown. The experiment presented in this paper studies the role (...)
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  • Self Domestication and the Evolution of Language.James Thomas & Simon Kirby - 2018 - Biology and Philosophy 33 (1-2):9.
    We set out an account of how self-domestication plays a crucial role in the evolution of language. In doing so, we focus on the growing body of work that treats language structure as emerging from the process of cultural transmission. We argue that a full recognition of the importance of cultural transmission fundamentally changes the kind of questions we should be asking regarding the biological basis of language structure. If we think of language structure as reflecting an accumulated set of (...)
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  • Editors' Review and Introduction: Learning Grammatical Structures: Developmental, Cross‐Species, and Computational Approaches.Carel ten Cate, Judit Gervain, Clara C. Levelt, Christopher I. Petkov & Willem Zuidema - 2020 - Topics in Cognitive Science 12 (3):804-814.
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  • Universality and Variation in Language.Halldór Ármann Sigurðsson - 2020 - Evolutionary Linguistic Theory 2 (1):5-29.
    This article discusses language universality and language variation, and suggests that there is no feature variation in initial syntax, featural variation arising by metamorphosis under transfer from syntax to PF-morphology. In particular, it explores the Zero Hypothesis, stating that Universal Grammar, UG, only provides two building elements, Root Zero and Edge Feature Zero, zero, as they are purely structural/formal elements with no semantic content in UG. Their potential content is provided by the Concept Mine, a mind-internal but language-external department. UG (...)
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  • What is Super Semantics?Philippe Schlenker - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):365-453.
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  • Monkey Semantics: Two ‘Dialects’ of Campbell’s Monkey Alarm Calls.Philippe Schlenker, Emmanuel Chemla, Kate Arnold, Alban Lemasson, Karim Ouattara, Sumir Keenan, Claudia Stephan, Robin Ryder & Klaus Zuberbühler - 2014 - Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (6):439-501.
    We develop a formal semantic analysis of the alarm calls used by Campbell’s monkeys in the Tai forest and on Tiwai island —two sites that differ in the main predators that the monkeys are exposed to. Building on data discussed in Ouattara et al. :e7808, 2009a; PNAS 106: 22026–22031, 2009b and Arnold et al., we argue that on both sites alarm calls include the roots krak and hok, which can optionally be affixed with -oo, a kind of attenuating suffix; in (...)
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  • Can a Bird Brain Do Phonology?Bridget D. Samuels - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • Mockingbird Morphing Music: Structured Transitions in a Complex Bird Song.Tina C. Roeske, David Rothenberg & David E. Gammon - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    The song of the northern mockingbird, Mimus polyglottos, is notable for its extensive length and inclusion of numerous imitations of several common North American bird species. Because of its complexity, it is not widely studied by birdsong scientists. When they do study it, the specific imitations are often noted, and the total number of varying phrases. What is rarely noted is the systematic way the bird changes from one syllable to the next, often with a subtle transition where one sound (...)
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  • The Precedence of Syntax in the Rapid Emergence of Human Language in Evolution as Defined by the Integration Hypothesis.Vitor A. Nã³Brega & Shigeru Miyagawa - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • Labels, Cognomes, and Cyclic Computation: An Ethological Perspective.Elliot Murphy - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
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  • The Emergence of Hierarchical Structure in Human Language.Shigeru Miyagawa, Robert C. Berwick & Kazuo Okanoya - 2013 - Frontiers in Psychology 4.
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  • Systems Underlying Human and Old World Monkey Communication: One, Two, or Infinite.Shigeru Miyagawa & Esther Clarke - 2019 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.
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  • Juvenile Zebra Finches Learn the Underlying Structural Regularities of Their Fathers’ Song.Otília Menyhart, Oren Kolodny, Michael H. Goldstein, Timothy J. DeVoogd & Shimon Edelman - 2015 - Frontiers in Psychology 6.
  • Attention Mechanisms and the Mosaic Evolution of Speech.Pedro T. Martins & Cedric Boeckx - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
  • In Search of a Unified Theory of Sensory Perception: Possible Links between the Vibrational Mechanism of Olfaction and the Evolution of Language.Amelia Lewis - 2020 - Biosemiotics 13 (2):261-270.
    Here, I outline the idea of a unified hypothesis of sensory perception, developed from the theoretical vibrational mechanism of olfaction, which can be applied across all sensory modalities. I propose that all sensory perception is based upon the detection of mechanical forces at a cellular level, and the subsequent mechanotransduction of the signal via the nervous system. Thus, I argue that the sensory modalities found in the animal kingdom may all be viewed as being mechanoreceptory, rather than being discrete neurophysiological (...)
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  • Compression and Communication in the Cultural Evolution of Linguistic Structure.Simon Kirby, Monica Tamariz, Hannah Cornish & Kenny Smith - 2015 - Cognition 141 (C):87-102.
  • Combinatory Rules and Chunk Structure in Male Mueller’s Gibbon Songs.Yoichi Inoue, Waidi Sinun, Shigeto Yosida & Kazuo Okanoya - 2017 - Latest Issue of Interaction Studies 18 (1):1-25.
    Understanding whether the long and elaborate songs of male gibbons have syntax and hierarchical structures is an interesting question in the evolution of language, because gibbons are near humans in the phylogenetic tree and a hierarchically organized syntax is considered to be a basic component of human language. We conducted field research at Danum Valley Conservation Area in northern Borneo to test the hypothesis that gibbon songs have syntax and chunks. We followed one Mueller’s gibbon group for 1 week in (...)
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  • What Complexity Differences Reveal About Domains in Language.Jeffrey Heinz & William Idsardi - 2013 - Topics in Cognitive Science 5 (1):111-131.
    An important distinction between phonology and syntax has been overlooked. All phonological patterns belong to the regular region of the Chomsky Hierarchy, but not all syntactic patterns do. We argue that the hypothesis that humans employ distinct learning mechanisms for phonology and syntax currently offers the best explanation for this difference.
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  • Notions of Arbitrariness.Luca Gasparri, Piera Filippi, Markus Wild & Hans-Johann Glock - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
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  • Nativism, Empiricism, and Ockham’s Razor.Simon Fitzpatrick - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):895-922.
    This paper discusses the role that appeals to theoretical simplicity have played in the debate between nativists and empiricists in cognitive science. Both sides have been keen to make use of such appeals in defence of their respective positions about the structure and ontogeny of the human mind. Focusing on the standard simplicity argument employed by empiricist-minded philosophers and cognitive scientists—what I call “the argument for minimal innateness”—I identify various problems with such arguments—in particular, the apparent arbitrariness of the relevant (...)
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  • Specifically Human: Going Beyond Perceptual Syntax. [REVIEW]Piera Filippi - 2014 - Biosemiotics 7 (1):111-123.
    The aim of this paper is to help refine the definition of humans as “linguistic animals” in light of a comparative approach on nonhuman animals’ cognitive systems. As Uexküll & Kriszat (1934/1992) have theorized, the epistemic access to each species-specific environment (Umwelt) is driven by different biocognitive processes. Within this conceptual framework, I identify the salient cognitive process that distinguishes each species typical perception of the world as the faculty of language meant in the following operational definition: the ability to (...)
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  • Perceptual Categories Enable Pattern Generalization in Songbirds.Jordan A. Comins & Timothy Q. Gentner - 2013 - Cognition 128 (2):113-118.
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  • Thinking Merleau-Ponty Forward / Review of Louise Westling . The Logos of the Living World: Merleau-Ponty, Animals, and Language.W. John Coletta - 2015 - Biosemiotics 8 (1):145-151.
    A central thesis of Louise Westling’s highly accomplished and provocative The Logos of the Living World: Merleau-Ponty, Animals, and Language is that “human language and aesthetic behaviors emerge from our animality” . What is perhaps most compelling about her thesis is that she supports it by exploring how an evolutionary continuity between an always already languaged world and human being-in-the-world can be understood without having to employ the dangerous logic of social Darwinism or some schools of evolutionary psychology and without (...)
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  • Evolution of Affective and Linguistic Disambiguation Under Social Eavesdropping Pressures.Kevin B. Clark - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (6):551-552.
    Contradicting new dual-pathway models of language evolution, cortico-striatal-thalamic circuitry disambiguate uncertainties in affective prosody and propositional linguistic content of language production and comprehension, predictably setting limits on useful complexity of articulate phonic and/or signed speech. Such limits likely evolved to ensure public information is discriminated by intended communicants and safeguarded against the ecological pressures of social eavesdropping within and across phylogenetic boundaries.
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  • The Shape of the Human Language-Ready Brain.Cedric Boeckx - 2014 - Frontiers in Psychology 5.
  • Higher-Order Musical Temporal Structure in Bird Song.Hans T. Bilger, Emily Vertosick, Andrew Vickers, Konrad Kaczmarek & Richard O. Prum - 2021 - Frontiers in Psychology 12.
    Bird songs often display musical acoustic features such as tonal pitch selection, rhythmicity, and melodic contouring. We investigated higher-order musical temporal structure in bird song using an experimental method called “music scrambling” with human subjects. Recorded songs from a phylogenetically diverse group of 20 avian taxa were split into constituent elements and recombined in original and random order. Human subjects were asked to evaluate which version sounded more “musical” on a per-species basis. Species identity and stimulus treatment were concealed from (...)
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  • Evolution, Brain, and the Nature of Language.Robert C. Berwick, Angela D. Friederici, Noam Chomsky & Johan J. Bolhuis - 2013 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 17 (2):89-98.
  • Universal Grammar and Biological Variation: An EvoDevo Agenda for Comparative Biolinguistics.Antonio Benítez-Burraco & Cedric Boeckx - 2014 - Biological Theory 9 (2):122-134.
    Recent advances in genetics and neurobiology have greatly increased the degree of variation that one finds in what is taken to provide the biological foundations of our species-specific linguistic capacities. In particular, this variation seems to cast doubt on the purportedly homogeneous nature of the language faculty traditionally captured by the concept of “Universal Grammar.” In this article we discuss what this new source of diversity reveals about the biological reality underlying Universal Grammar. Our discussion leads us to support certain (...)
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  • Comparative Analyses of Speech and Language Converge on Birds.Gabriël J. L. Beckers, Robert C. Berwick & Johan J. Bolhuis - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (6):547-548.
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  • Brain Mechanisms of Acoustic Communication in Humans and Nonhuman Primates: An Evolutionary Perspective.Hermann Ackermann, Steffen R. Hage & Wolfram Ziegler - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (6):529-546.
    Any account of “what is special about the human brain” must specify the neural basis of our unique ability to produce speech and delineate how these remarkable motor capabilities could have emerged in our hominin ancestors. Clinical data suggest that the basal ganglia provide a platform for the integration of primate-general mechanisms of acoustic communication with the faculty of articulate speech in humans. Furthermore, neurobiological and paleoanthropological data point at a two-stage model of the phylogenetic evolution of this crucial prerequisite (...)
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  • Calibrating Generative Models: The Probabilistic Chomsky-Schützenberger Hierarchy.Thomas Icard - 2020 - Journal of Mathematical Psychology 95.
    A probabilistic Chomsky–Schützenberger hierarchy of grammars is introduced and studied, with the aim of understanding the expressive power of generative models. We offer characterizations of the distributions definable at each level of the hierarchy, including probabilistic regular, context-free, (linear) indexed, context-sensitive, and unrestricted grammars, each corresponding to familiar probabilistic machine classes. Special attention is given to distributions on (unary notations for) positive integers. Unlike in the classical case where the "semi-linear" languages all collapse into the regular languages, using analytic tools (...)
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  • Natural Recursion Doesn’T Work That Way: Automata in Planning and Syntax.Cem Bozsahin - 2016 - In Vincent Müller (ed.), Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence. Wil, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 95-112.
    Natural recursion in syntax is recursion by linguistic value, which is not syntactic in nature but semantic. Syntax-specific recursion is not recursion by name as the term is understood in theoretical computer science. Recursion by name is probably not natural because of its infinite typeability. Natural recursion, or recursion by value, is not species-specific. Human recursion is not syntax-specific. The values on which it operates are most likely domain-specific, including those for syntax. Syntax seems to require no more (and no (...)
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  • Overlooked Evidence for Semantic Compositionality and Signal Reduction in Wild Chimpanzees (Pan Troglodytes).Petar Gabrić - forthcoming - Animal Cognition.
    Recent discoveries of semantic compositionality in Japanese tits have enlivened the discussions on the presence of this phenomenon in wild animal communication. Data on semantic compositionality in wild apes are lacking, even though language experiments with captive apes have demonstrated they are capable of semantic compositionality. In this paper, I revisit the study by Boesch (Hum. Evol. 6:81–89, 1991) who investigated drumming sequences by an alpha male in a chimpanzee (_Pan troglodytes_) community in the Taï National Park, Côte d’Ivoire. A (...)
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  • Language as an Instrument of Thought.Eran Asoulin - 2016 - Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 1 (1):1-23.
    I show that there are good arguments and evidence to boot that support the language as an instrument of thought hypothesis. The underlying mechanisms of language, comprising of expressions structured hierarchically and recursively, provide a perspective (in the form of a conceptual structure) on the world, for it is only via language that certain perspectives are avail- able to us and to our thought processes. These mechanisms provide us with a uniquely human way of thinking and talking about the world (...)
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  • Typology and Natural Kinds in Evo-Devo.Ingo Brigandt - 2021 - In Laura Nuño De La Rosa & Gerd Müller (eds.), Evolutionary Developmental Biology: A Reference Guide. Cham: Springer. pp. 483-493.
    The traditional practice of establishing morphological types and investigating morphological organization has found new support from evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), especially with respect to the notion of body plans. Despite recurring claims that typology is at odds with evolutionary thinking, evo-devo offers mechanistic explanations of the evolutionary origin, transformation, and evolvability of morphological organization. In parallel, philosophers have developed non-essentialist conceptions of natural kinds that permit kinds to exhibit variation and undergo change. This not only facilitates a construal of species (...)
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