Grammar change – A case of Darwinian cognitive evolution
Hubert Haider
April 2021

[FINAL VERSION of the target paper + RESPONSES TO THE RESPONSES] This paper claims that grammar change is a case of Darwinian evolution whenever a change shapes the cognitively encapsulated, procedural parts of grammar. The cognitively accessible, declarative content of grammars is open for socially motivated changes of the Lamarckian kind. The grammar of a language is a complex neuro-cognitively represented program. Such programs are results of an ongoing process of evolution, that is, results of the interplay between variation and selection, on the level of competing variants of these cognitive programs. In cognitive evolution, the same principles operate as in biological evolution, but the domains of biology and cognition are disjoint, of course. Evolution of grammar is not a facet of biological evolution. It is a domain of evolution on its own. However, as the very same general abstract principles are at work in each domain, the evolutionary processes are structurally identical. As a consequence, theoretical insights of a century of research in population genetics can be cautiously adduced and utilized for the explanation of grammar changes.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005134
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: (In press as target paper): ELT - Evolutionary Linguistic Theory. vol. 3, 2021
keywords: evolution of language, ug, darwinian evolution, lamarckian, population genetics, word order, grammar change, language change, morphological change, procedural versus declarative, against functional explanations, cognitive capacities
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