Why Language Evolution Needs Memory: Systems and Ecological Approaches

Biosemiotics 8 (1):47-65 (2015)
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The main purpose of this article is to consider the significance of different types of memory and non-genetic inheritance and different biosemiotic systems for the origin and evolution of language. It presents language and memory as distributed, heteronomous and system-determined processes implemented in biological and social domains. The article emphasises that language and other sign systems are both ecological and inductive systems that were caused by and always correlate with the environment and deductive systems that are inherited by and depend on the internal development of organisms, individuals, and societies. The article also claims that the origin, re-occurrence and evolution of naturally-emerging sign systems presuppose their retention and accumulation in physical, biological, individual, and social types of memory and reinforcement and maintenance by conventional and deliberate social regulation and accumulation. All of this allows language and other sign systems to be situation-relevant and to be transmitted through generations without their constant reinvention. The novelty of the proposed theory of language origin and evolution is in interdisciplinary integration of biosemiotic studies, systems approaches to language and studies of inheritance systems presented by ‘Extended evolutionary synthesis’



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