Language Reflects “Core” Cognition: A New Theory About the Origin of Cross‐Linguistic Regularities

Cognitive Science 40 (6):n/a-n/a (2016)
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Abstract

The underlying structures that are common to the world's languages bear an intriguing connection with early emerging forms of “core knowledge”, which are frequently studied by infant researchers. In particular, grammatical systems often incorporate distinctions that reflect those made in core knowledge. Here, I argue that this connection occurs because non-verbal core knowledge systematically biases processes of language evolution. This account potentially explains a wide range of cross-linguistic grammatical phenomena that currently lack an adequate explanation. Second, I suggest that developmental researchers and cognitive scientists interested in knowledge representation can exploit this connection to language by using observations about cross-linguistic grammatical tendencies to inspire hypotheses about core knowledge.

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Brent Strickland
Institut Jean Nicod

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