Evolutionary Perspectives on Language Development

Morten H. Christiansen

In: Encyclopedia of Language Development

Evolutionary Perspectives on Language Development

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  • It may seem counterintuitive that evolutionary perspectives on language should have any consequences for theories of language development. After all, apart from relatively minor shifts in vocabularies and pronunciations, the linguistic environment remains relatively stable over the period of primary language development. Researchers have therefore tended to assume that language is essentially fixed when it comes to the study of language acquisition. However, this does not mean that language evolution theories are irrelevant for language acquisition researchers. Indeed, recent evolutionary considerations promise to cast the problem of language acquisition in a new light, potentially ruling out certain approaches while, at the same time, suggesting that the task facing children may be simpler than previously assumed.

    Early Approaches to Language Evolution

    The study of language evolution has a ...

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