This is just a quick post to share an article across which I recently came. It was published in the Wall Street Journal, and since we often discuss linguistics in our posts it seemed worth sharing.
I also share this because it is a source of amusement for me that these supposed linguistics “experts” were so surprised that language might have arisen spontaneously. To me, it seems logical that the most likely hypothesis for the origin of language is that it evolved naturally and organically, without any coherent plan. The idea of a “language gene” or other innate mechanism that would facilitate language – not the ability to develop and use language, but a biological mechanism actually controlling the development of grammar and syntax – strikes me as highly improbable, and yet it was apparently the dominant explanation. Make this reason number two hundred and thirty seven to not trust what the “experts” say about anything.
It’s not that I wouldn’t entertain the possibility that language did not arise spontaneously, or that it’s not a valid hypothesis. It merely does not seem as probable a hypothesis as a natural, evolutionary origin, from rudimentary communication of survival necessities to our present attempts to capture the meaning of life in 280 characters. Based on my reading of Bernoulli’s Fallacy, I wonder if it is a result of using a frequentist approach instead of a Bayesian approach (that will all make much more sense when that review goes live a few months from now, so stay tuned).
Anyway, that’s all. Like I said, a quick post to share this article I found. Aside from being an opportunity to scoff at experts, it did have some interesting insights about how language continues to evolve, especially in terms of grammar and syntax – these are also ideas that we will be discussing in future posts. In the meantime, let me know what you thought of the article in the comments below.