Friday, May 04, 2012

Debating Language: The Role of Culture and Biology

Cognition + Culture + Communication = Language--With this formula as shorthand, in his new book Language: The Cultural Tool, linguist Dan Everett argues that the variability in human cultural life explains the variability in human languages. Last week I introduced some of Everett's ideas about language and discussed their genesis in his Brazilian fieldwork. When I suggested that Everett's ideas about culture's forceful impact aid in thinking skeptically about a heavily biological paradigm stemming from the work of Noam Chomsky and colleagues, the response was fast and furious. more

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