Why Don’t Languages Grammaticalize [±poisonous]?
Evelina Leivada, Lluís Barceló-Coblijn
March 2021

The present work aims to re-affirm that biolinguistics and theoretical linguistics are conceptually connected. To do so, two specific questions that frequently arise in theoretical linguistics debates are addressed through a biolinguistic point of view: 1. Why languages grammaticalize certain features, but not others, and 2. Whether this observation offers an argument for an innate component (e.g., Universal Grammar) that encodes a toolkit of grammaticalizable cognitive features. The starting point of the discussion are some critical observations made in the context of the 2020 “Linguistics Flash-Mobs. Epic Battles in History” live debates. With respect to the first question, several explanations are offered as to why languages do not grammaticalize BRIGHTNESS as well as why [±poisonous] is not a good candidate for a grammatical marker. Merging insights from evolution, ethology, language development, and artificial language learning, we then argue that the frequently established connection between consistently grammaticalized features and Universal Grammar lacks a solid basis.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005845
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Biolinguistics 14.SI, 51-58
keywords: universal grammar, grammaticalization, evidentiality, animal cognition, syntax
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