Evolution and Language (1): Language, Experience, and Imagination: The Invention and Evolution of Language
Ever since Chomsky, language has been considered primarily as an individual cognitive capacity. Even linguists who reject Chomsky’s hypotheses accept this assumption. Daniel Dor proposes instead that language is a socially invented communication technology. It differs from all other animal communication systems, including human non-verbal communication, in that it can instruct the imaginations of others about things not shared with the speaker in the here and now. Dor’s proposal solves the problem of the evolution of language, assigns a key role to individual differences in language evolution, change, diversity, acquisition, and use, unifies the many divided branches of linguistics and solves or points toward solutions in many central areas of the subject, from semantics and syntax to pragmatics and the relation between language and thought. It promises not only to change the face of the language sciences, but to have profound implications for anthropology, biology, cultural studies, literary studies, philosophy, politics, and religion, and for our understanding of human experience.
Keywords: language, linguistics, Chomsky, evolution, cognition, imagination, experience, communication, technology, semantics.
Book under Review
Dor, Daniel. 2015. The Instruction of Imagination: Language as a Social Communication Technology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. xii, 259 pages. Hardcover $74.
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