Variation and Universals in Biolinguistics
”Jenkins has succeeded in putting together a terrific volume. Some of the most creative minds in the fields tackle questions of utmost importance in biolinguistics. The clarity with which these essays are written and the insights expressed in them are sure to provide solid foundations for research in linguistics and related fields for years to come. A truly outstanding collection!” – Cedric Boeckx, Harvard University, USA
This book provides a current and interdisciplinary overview of work on the biology of language - what is sometimes called the "biolinguistic approach." A wide range of areas are investigated and reviewed by specialists: the micro-parametric theory of syntax, models of language acquisition and historical change, dynamical systems in language, genetics of populations, pragmatics of discourse, language neurology, genetic disorders of language, sign language, and evolution of language. It focuses on the interplay between variation and the universal properties of language. Detailed surveys or case studies are provided from the areas of syntactic variation, genetic variation, neurological variation and historical variation, among others, and of the universal principles and theoretical models that underlie the variation. Finally, it considers—in addition to the detailed empirical studies—philosophical, foundational and methodological issues in the study of the biology of language and its place within the natural sciences; e.g., innateness, modularity, language design and unification in biolinguistics, as well as critiques of the approach.