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Title: Language evolution and complexity considerations: The no half-Merge fallacy
Author: Martins, Pedro Tiago
Boeckx, Cedric
Keywords: Adquisició del llenguatge
Evolució humana
Language acquisition
Human evolution
Issue Date: 27-Nov-2019
Publisher: Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Abstract: Recently, prominent theoretical linguists have argued for an explicit scenario for the evolution of the human language capacity on the basis of its computational properties. Concretely, the simplicity of a minimalist formulation of the operation Merge, which allows humans to recursively compute hierarchical relations in language, has been used to promote a sudden-emergence, single-mutation scenario. In support of this view, Merge is said to be either fully present or fully absent: one cannot have half-Merge. On this basis, it is inferred that the emergence of our fully fledged language capacity had to be sudden. Thus, proponents of this view draw a parallelism between the formal complexity of the operation at the computational level and the number of evolutionary steps it must imply. Here, we examine this argument in detail and show that the jump from the atomicity of Merge to a single-mutation scenario is not valid and therefore cannot be used as justification for a theory of language evolution along
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It is part of: PLoS Biology, 2019, vol. 17, num. 11, p. e3000389
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ISSN: 1544-9173
Appears in Collections:Articles publicats en revistes (Filologia Catalana i Lingüística General)
Articles publicats en revistes (Institut de Recerca en Sistemes Complexos (UBICS))

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