The Oxford University Press has announced a new Journal of Language Evolution. Its editors are Dan Dediu and Bart de Boer, two investigators notable for both the seriousness of their research and original thinking. They describe their intentions here. I'm wishing them the best of luck.
I was the kind of kid who hit upon questions rather than answers. One time, I was thinking about how French kids learned French from their parents and American kids learned English. That process went back to the cavemen, but who did the cavemen learn language from?
I have been thinking about last week’s post; it discussed a paper lamenting that the generative approach is ending with a whimper rather than a bang: “insights… recognized since the very origins of generative grammar … seem to have been forgotten, ignored, or even denied without serious argument.” The distinguished authors – Martin Everaert, Mannus Huybregts, Noam Chomsky, Robert Berwick, Johan Bolhuis – appear to have no idea why their movement is no longer at the cutting edge of linguistic activity.
Not surprisingly, they look to changing alignments of the stars rather than wondering how much they themselves might have contributed to their plight. I was especially struck by their complaint that generative theory has been pushed aside “without serious argument.” There has, of course, been tremendous argument, but very little response that has taken the criticism of generative linguistics seriously. Many rival theories have been put forward, their authors eager to dispute the generativists, but they have gotten little to no back and forth.