LINGUIST List 11.1210

Mon May 29 2000

Books: Syntax, Evolutionary Biology/Generative Ling

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <scottlinguistlist.org>




Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.

Directory

  • Jud Wolfskill, Essays on Minimalist Syntax in Honor of Howard Lasnik
  • Jud Wolfskill, Evolutionary Biology/Generative Ling: Lingua ex Machina

    Message 1: Essays on Minimalist Syntax in Honor of Howard Lasnik

    Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 17:28:06 -0400
    From: Jud Wolfskill <wolfskilMIT.EDU>
    Subject: Essays on Minimalist Syntax in Honor of Howard Lasnik


    The following is a book which readers of this list might find of interest. For more information please visit http://mitpress.mit.edu/promotions/books/MAREHS00

    Step by Step

    Essays on Minimalist Syntax in Honor of Howard Lasnik

    edited by Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka

    This collection of essays presents an up-to-date overview of research in the minimalist program of linguistic theory. The book includes a new essay by Noam Chomsky as well as original contributions from other renowned linguists.

    Roger Martin is Assistant Professor in the Institute of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Tsukuba, Japan. David Michaels is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut. Juan Uriagereka is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Maryland.

    Contributors

    Andrew Barss, Zeljko Boskovic, Noam Chomsky, Hamida Demirdache, Hiroto Hoshi, Kyle Johnson, Roger Martin, Keiko Murasugi, Javier Ormazabal, Mamoru Saito, Daiko Takahashi, Juan Uriagereka, Myriam Uribe-Extebarria, Ewa Willim.

    6 x 9, 500 pp., 1 illus., cloth ISBN 0-262-13361-X

    MIT Press Five Cambridge Center Cambridge, MA 02142-1493

    Phone: (617) 253-2079 Fax: (617) 253-1709 http://mitpress.mit.edu E-mail: wolfskilmit.edu


    Message 2: Evolutionary Biology/Generative Ling: Lingua ex Machina

    Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 17:30:15 -0400
    From: Jud Wolfskill <wolfskilMIT.EDU>
    Subject: Evolutionary Biology/Generative Ling: Lingua ex Machina


    The following is a book which readers of this list might find of interest. For more information please visit http://mitpress.mit.edu/promotions/books/CALIHS00

    Lingua ex Machina

    Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human Brain

    William H. Calvin and Derek Bickerton

    A machine for language? Certainly, say the neurophysiologists, busy studying the language specializations of the human brain and trying to identify their evolutionary antecedents. Linguists such as Noam Chomsky talk about machinelike "modules" in the brain for syntax, arguing that language is more an instinct (a complex behavior triggered by simple environmental stimuli) than an acquired skill like riding a bicycle.

    But structured language presents the same evolutionary problems as feathered forelimbs for flight: you need a lot of specializations to fly even a little bit. How do you get them, if evolution has no foresight and the intermediate stages do not have intermediate payoffs? Some say that the Darwinian scheme for gradual species self-improvement cannot explain our most valued human capability, the one that sets us so far above the apes, language itself.

    William Calvin and Derek Bickerton suggest that other evolutionary developments, not directly related to language, allowed language to evolve in a way that eventually promoted a Chomskian syntax. They compare these intermediate behaviors to the curb-cuts originally intended for wheelchair users. Their usefulness was soon discovered by users of strollers, shopping carts, rollerblades, and so on. The authors argue that reciprocal altruism and ballistic movement planning were "curb-cuts" that indirectly promoted the formation of structured language. Written in the form of a dialogue set in Bellagio, Italy, Lingua ex Machina presents a challenge to those who view the human capacity for language as a winner-take-all war between Chomsky and Darwin.

    William H. Calvin is Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington, Seattle. His books include The Cerebral Code (MIT Press, 1996). Derek Bickerton is Professor of Linguistics, Emeritus, at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu. He is the author of Roots of Language, Language, and Species, and Language and Human Behavior.

    6 x 9, 304 pp., 50 illus., cloth ISBN 0-262-03273-2

    A Bradford Book

    MIT Press Five Cambridge Center Cambridge, MA 02142-1493

    Phone: (617) 253-2079 Fax: (617) 253-1709 http://mitpress.mit.edu E-mail: wolfskilmit.edu
    Pubs-postscript-html