Grammar Came Later: Triality of Patterning and The Gradual Evolution of Language
Daniel Everett
October 2016

This paper argues that language is primarily a tool for communication, not primarily a means of thought expression. It makes the case that language has its roots in intentional iconicity of Australopithecines and probably had reached the level of a G1 grammar (linear ordering of symbols + gestures) some 1.5 million years ago. Other forms of language, e.g. hierarchical, recursive grammars, are later embellishments that are neither necessary nor sufficient to have human language. The paper looks in detail at the evolution of culture among early hominins and how gap between indexes and icons to symbols might have been bridged. It then discusses the basic composition of phonology, morphology and syntax. The paper rejects the idea of a proto-language, as it also rejects the "X-men" view of language evolution/mutation proposed in Berwick and Chomsky (2016).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002948
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in the Journal of Neurolinguistics
keywords: language evolution, culture, syntax, morphology, semantics, symbols, semiosis, syntax, phonology, semantics, morphology
previous versions: v2 [April 2016]
v1 [April 2016]
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