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      ‘All Languages Are Equally Complex’ : The rise and fall of a consensus

      1 , 2
      Historiographia Linguistica
      John Benjamins Publishing Company

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          Summary

          Throughout most of the history of the discipline, linguists have had little hesitation in comparing languages in terms of their relative complexity, whether or not they extrapolated judgements of superiority or inferiority from such comparisons. By the mid 20th century, however, a consensus had arisen that all languages were of equal complexity. This paper documents and explains the rise of this consensus, as well as the reasons that have led to it being challenged in recent years, from various directions, including language diversity, as analysed by Daniel Everett; arguments about Creoles and Creoloids, as put forward by Peter Trudgill, and others; and views from generative linguistics and evolutionary anthropology.

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

          M. Hauser (2002)
          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 evolutionary biology, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience. We submit that a distinction should be made between the faculty of language in the broad sense (FLB) and in the narrow sense (FLN). FLB includes a sensory-motor system, a conceptual-intentional system, and the computational mechanisms for recursion, providing the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of elements. We hypothesize that FLN only includes recursion and is the only uniquely human component of the faculty of language. We further argue that FLN may have evolved for reasons other than language, hence comparative studies might look for evidence of such computations outside of the domain of communication (for example, number, navigation, and social relations).
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            Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars

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              The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Historiographia Linguistica
                HL
                John Benjamins Publishing Company
                0302-5160
                1569-9781
                December 4 2012
                November 23 2012
                December 4 2012
                November 23 2012
                : 39
                : 2-3
                : 341-368
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Edinburgh
                [2 ]University of Washington
                Article
                10.1075/hl.39.2-3.08jos
                5c70bb17-262c-4c04-96b8-34ac529f4dbf
                © 2012
                History

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