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The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity: Diachrony, Ontogeny, Neuro-Cognition, Evolution by Talmy Givón (review)

The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity: Diachrony, Ontogeny, Neuro-Cognition, Evolution by Talmy... The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity: Diachrony, Ontogeny, Neuro-Cognition, Evolution. TALMY GIVÓN. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. xviii + 366. $165.00, 110.00 (hardcover), $54.00, 36.00 (paper). Reviewed by Kaius Sinnemäki, University of Tampere In the volume under review, Talmy Givón, one of the foremost pioneers of functionalist linguistics, pulls together his interest and expertise in language documentation, diachrony, language acquisition, evolution, and neurocognition and presents a multidisciplinary case for a gradual, functional-adaptive account of the genesis of syntactic complexity in human communication. In this review, I first provide a chapter-by-chapter summary, followed by my general evaluation of the book as well as discussions of some more specific issues that require attention. The book consists of twelve chapters grouped into four parts, of which part 1 discusses the theoretical-methodological background. In chapter 1, "Complexity: An Overview" (pp. 3--18), Givón's motivation is revealed to be the refutation of Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch's (2002) claims that recursion is the key design feature of language and that it evolved nongradually and nonadaptively. Instead of presenting a detailed critique, Givón's plan is to argue for an alternative, functional-adaptive scenario for the evolution of complex syntax. The notion "complexity" is defined as increased hierarchic organization http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Anthropological Linguistics University of Nebraska Press

The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity: Diachrony, Ontogeny, Neuro-Cognition, Evolution by Talmy Givón (review)

Anthropological Linguistics , Volume 54 (2) – Apr 7, 2012

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University of Nebraska Press
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Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
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1944-6527
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Abstract

The Genesis of Syntactic Complexity: Diachrony, Ontogeny, Neuro-Cognition, Evolution. TALMY GIVÓN. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2009. Pp. xviii + 366. $165.00, 110.00 (hardcover), $54.00, 36.00 (paper). Reviewed by Kaius Sinnemäki, University of Tampere In the volume under review, Talmy Givón, one of the foremost pioneers of functionalist linguistics, pulls together his interest and expertise in language documentation, diachrony, language acquisition, evolution, and neurocognition and presents a multidisciplinary case for a gradual, functional-adaptive account of the genesis of syntactic complexity in human communication. In this review, I first provide a chapter-by-chapter summary, followed by my general evaluation of the book as well as discussions of some more specific issues that require attention. The book consists of twelve chapters grouped into four parts, of which part 1 discusses the theoretical-methodological background. In chapter 1, "Complexity: An Overview" (pp. 3--18), Givón's motivation is revealed to be the refutation of Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch's (2002) claims that recursion is the key design feature of language and that it evolved nongradually and nonadaptively. Instead of presenting a detailed critique, Givón's plan is to argue for an alternative, functional-adaptive scenario for the evolution of complex syntax. The notion "complexity" is defined as increased hierarchic organization

Journal

Anthropological LinguisticsUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Apr 7, 2012

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