The faculty of language: what's special about it?

  title={The faculty of language: what's special about it?},
  author={Steven Pinker and Ray Jackendoff},

What's Special About Human Language? The Contents of the "Narrow Language Faculty" Revisited

The recursion-only hypothesis, advocated by Fitch, Hauser and Chomsky, is re-evaluate, with the claim that recursion is a property of all human languages claimed.

The Components of Language: What's Specific to Language, and What's Specific to Humans1

The present chapter addresses the question—the character of the human language capacity—and is more concerned with the question of what kind of biological system language is, and how it relates to other systems in the authors' own species and others.

The language faculty that wasn't: a usage-based account of natural language recursion

It is argued that a language faculty is difficult to reconcile with evolutionary considerations, and that the authors' ability to process recursive structure does not rely on recursion as a property of the grammar, but instead emerges gradually by piggybacking on domain-general sequence learning abilities.

What is the human language faculty?: Two views

In addition to providing an account of the empirical facts of language, a theory that aspires to account for language as a biologically based human faculty should seek a graceful integration of

Human Linguisticality and the Building Blocks of Languages

The widely held idea that the building blocks of languages are part of an innate blueprint for Human Language is discussed, and it is argued that if one allows for convergent cultural evolution of grammatical structures, then much of the motivation for it disappears.

Variation and Imperfection Their Implications to the Concept of Language

The many various definitions of the term ‘language’ make it improbable to account for the nature of the variations within the languages of the world. It seems that the recent and dominant concept of

Do They Speak Language?

This paper offers a detailed overview of Hockett’s design-features and emphasizes the problematic nature of certain characteristics, showing that language cannot be defined as an exclusive quality of a single species.

A Note on the Exclusivity of Human Language

Human language is exclusive among all primary vocal communicating tools used in the kingdom animalia. However, there are debates on what makes human language exclusive. Among these debates, the most

The myth of language universals: language diversity and its importance for cognitive science.

This target article summarizes decades of cross-linguistic work by typologists and descriptive linguists, showing just how few and unprofound the universal characteristics of language are, once the authors honestly confront the diversity offered to us by the world's 6,000 to 8,000 languages.



The faculty of language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve?

We argue that an understanding of the faculty of language requires substantial interdisciplinary cooperation. We suggest how current developments in linguistics can be profitably wedded to work in

Language and problems of knowledge : the Managua lectures

Much of the discussion revolves around the understanding of basic human nature (that the authors are unique in being able to produce a rich, highly articulated, and complex language on the basis of quite rudimentary data), and it is here that Chomsky's ideas on language relate to his ideas on politics.

Language and species

  • D. McNeill
  • Linguistics
    International Journal of Primatology
  • 2006
Bickerton produces his first surprising insight: language is not continuous with animal communication systems, and this is where the evolutionary roots of language should be sought.

On the insufficiency of evidence for a domain-general account of word learning

Language as an adaptation to the cognitive niche

In this chapter the design of the language faculty, the theory that language is an adaptation, alternatives to the theory, an examination of what language might an adaptation for, and how the theory is being tested by new kinds of analyses and evidence are discussed.

Biological Specializations for Speech

Both comparative and human behavioral research, including brain-imaging studies of functional localization, electrophysiological recordings of the neural basis of the perception-production link, and developmental studies of a time-locked schedule of language learning, favor SiS over auditorism.

The biological basis of speech: what to infer from talking to the animals.

The author argues that the auditorist's refutation project must demonstrate not just cross-species isomorphisms of behavior but also either a common biological mechanism or common functional organization, as well as respect for the total available evidence which undermines auditorism and bolsters SiS.

On Nature and Language

In this new and outstanding book Noam Chomsky develops his thinking on the relation between language, mind, and brain, integrating current research in linguistics into the burgeoning field of

Cultural Constraints on Grammar and Cognition in Pirahã

The Pirah language challenges simplistic application of Hocketts nearly universally accepted design features of human language by showing that some of these features (interchangeability,