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Book Cover
Author Givón, Talmy, 1936-

Title The genesis of syntactic complexity : diachrony, ontogeny, neuro-cognition, evolution / T. Givón
Published Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : John Benjamins Pub. Co., ©2009


Description 1 online resource (xviii, 366 pages) : illustrations (some color)
Contents Machine generated contents note: pt. I Background -- Ch. 1 Complexity: An overview -- Ch. 2 adaptive approach to grammar -- pt. II Diachrony -- Ch. 3 diachrony of grammar -- Ch. 4 Multiple routes to clause-union: The diachrony of complex verb phrases -- Ch. 5 diachrony of relative clauses: Syntactic complexity in the noun phrase -- pt. III Ontogeny -- Ch. 6 Child language acquisition -- Ch. 7 ontogeny of complex verb phrases: How children learn to negotiate fact and desire -- Ch. 8 ontogeny of relative clauses: How children learn to negotiate complex reference -- Ch. 9 Second-language pidgin -- pt. IV Biology -- Ch. 10 From single words to verbal clauses: Where do simple clauses come from? -- Ch. 11 neuro-cognition of syntactic complexity -- Ch. 12 Syntactic complexity and language evolution
Summary "Complex hierarchic syntax is a hallmark of human language. The highest level of syntactic complexity, recursive-embedded clauses, has been singled out by some for a special status as the evolutionary apex of the uniquely - human language faculty - evolutionary yet mysteriously immune to Darwinian adaptive selection. Prof. Givsn's book treats syntactic complexity as an integral part of the evolutionary rise of human communication. The book first describes grammar as an adaptive instrument of communication, assembled upon the pre-existing platform of pre-linguistic object- and-event cognition and mental representation. It then surveys the two grand developmental trends of human language: diachrony, the communal enterprise directly responsible for fashioning synchronic morpho-syntax and cross-language diversity; and ontogeny, the individual endeavor directly responsible for acquiring the competent use of grammar. The genesis of syntactic complexity along these two developmental trends is compared with second language acquisition, pre-grammatical pidgin and pre-human communication. The evolutionary relevance of language diachrony, language ontogeny and pidginization is argued for on general bio-evolutionary grounds: It is the organism's adaptive on-line behavior-invention, learning and skill acquisition - that is the common thread running through all three developmental trends. The neuro-cognitive circuits that underlie language, and their evolutionary underpinnings, are described and assessed. Recursive embedding turns out to be not an adaptive target on its own, but the by-product of two distinct adaptive moves: (i) the recruitment of conjoined clauses as modal operators on, or referential specifiers of, other clauses; and (ii) the subsequent condensation of paratactic into syntactic structures."--Jacket
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages 339-355) and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Grammar, Comparative and general -- Syntax.
Linguistic change.
Language acquisition.
Language and languages -- Origin.
Human evolution.
Language Development
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES -- Grammar & Punctuation.
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES -- Linguistics -- Syntax.
Grammar, Comparative and general -- Syntax
Human evolution
Language acquisition
Language and languages -- Origin
Linguistic change
Diachronische linguïstiek.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 9789027290052