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Selected Books by Edmund Blair Bolles

  • Galileo's Commandment: 2500 Years of Great Science Writing
  • The Ice Finders: How a Poet, a Professor, and a Politician Discovered the Ice Age
  • Einstein Defiant: Genius vs Genius in the Quantum Revolution

« Another Speech-Related Gene Identified | Main | New From MIT »

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Neil

Jackendoff has had an incremental account of the evolution of syntax for years now, sketched out in his Foundations of Language (2002) and some other papers. That chapter (and the whole book) is highly worth reading if you're interested in evolution of language.
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BLOGGER: Here is a link to Jackendoff's book, which should be on the shelves of people interested in language origins.

garry

Bad News: Move is no longer an operation in Minimalist Program. It is a tool that we use to understand whether something is a constituent or not. It is better to look to the origins of Merge, if this is the way things need to explained.
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BLOGGER:Well, that’s what I get for trying to discuss a 32 page paper in about 800 words. Progovac says on p. 308,


“Move in Minimalism is never completely free but is taken to apply only if motivated by a need to check certain (strong uninterpretable) features. But once such features are present in the derivation, it is considered that Move applies freely, in the sense that it applies unless blocked by some specific principle like Subjacency. Significantly, this view fuels the influential language evolution hypothesis, according to which Merge (which subsumes Move) was the only evolutionary breakthrough for syntax: Once it emerged, it was able to apply freely and recursively”


The key point, for Progovac, is that “Merge … was the only [biological] breakthrough for syntax,” and “once it emerged” implies that there can have been a history before it emerged. Many syntacticians disagree about the earlier stages, and I include the Berwick remark on having “Merge in all its glory” or no syntax at all. Progovac disagrees with that point and argues that parataxis and coordination came before Merge/Move.

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