Why Only Us



[Reading] ➮ Why Only Us  ➶ Robert C. Berwick – Polishdarling.co.uk
  • Hardcover
  • 224 pages
  • Why Only Us
  • Robert C. Berwick
  • English
  • 16 November 2018
  • 9780262034241

Why Only Us We Are Born Crying, But Those Cries Signal The First Stirring Of Language Within A Year Or So, Infants Master The Sound System Of Their Language A Few Years After That, They Are Engaging In Conversations This Remarkable, Species Specific Ability To Acquire Any Human Language The Language Faculty Raises Important Biological Questions About Language, Including How It Has Evolved This Book By Two Distinguished Scholars A Computer Scientist And A Linguist Addresses The Enduring Question Of The Evolution Of Language.Robert Berwick And Noam Chomsky Explain That Until Recently The Evolutionary Question Could Not Be Properly Posed, Because We Did Not Have A Clear Idea Of How To Define Language And Therefore What It Was That Had Evolved But Since The Minimalist Program, Developed By Chomsky And Others, We Know The Key Ingredients Of Language And Can Put Together An Account Of The Evolution Of Human Language And What Distinguishes Us From All Other Animals.Berwick And Chomsky Discuss The Biolinguistic Perspective On Language, Which Views Language As A Particular Object Of The Biological World The Computational Efficiency Of Language As A System Of Thought And Understanding The Tension Between Darwin S Idea Of Gradual Change And Our Contemporary Understanding About Evolutionary Change And Language And Evidence From Nonhuman Animals, In Particular Vocal Learning In Songbirds.


About the Author: Robert C. Berwick

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Why Only Us book, this is one of the most wanted Robert C. Berwick author readers around the world.


10 thoughts on “Why Only Us

  1. says:

    The core idea in his monograph is that humans understand language hierarchically, an ability Chomsky and co author Robert Berwick call Merge Two mental objects can be merged into one, and that new, compound object can be processed linguistically as if it were a single object.Explained in a review in The Economist March 26th, 2016 , a cat wearing a hat can become a cat in the hat, a noun phrase that functions grammatically as a single mental object It can be merged with the to become the cat in the hat, and with other elements to become The cat in the hat on the mat Whole sentences can in this way become single mental objects, as in The cat in the hat on the mat came back Such compound mental objects can then be merged with other sentences to produce complex systems of thought Thus, language and thought are joined by this single ability, called Merge, which allows humans to think hierarchically The gene for this hierarchical ability allows advanced thought, which confers evolutionary advantage so is conserved over generations Leaving aside the presumptive genetics, for which there is little o...

  2. says:

    Most of this material came across as highly speculative, and the scientific backing was thin An interesting theory language for thought rather than communication but would need a lot detail and empirical backing to be convincing.

  3. says:

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  4. says:

    I thought this would be written for public consumption I found that the text warped from loose discussions around evolution to very specific and jargon filled discussions around brain functions and development For whom was this book intended, I wonder

  5. says:

    Most books on linguistics are focused on primatology or theories of cognitive evolution without a deep structural understanding of language, and many are focused on linguistics without a detailed approach to evolution This book bases its core arguments mostly on computer sciency linguistics and a detailed understanding of evolution It s important to note the difference between human language including sign language and other forms of communication animals use.The core idea they propose is the simplest form of recursive operation, which they call Merge basis of universal grammar is special to humans, and this led to the internal language i language , that have later turned into communicative language as we now it today So as a summary, what this book suggests is that, language didn t start as a means of communication but as an organiser of thought.Naming complex internal thought skills i language it s not a language creates a confusion and even when, I think, Merge is proposed as Chomsky s famous universal grammar because when there is the word grammar involv...

  6. says:

    This book by Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky, Why Only Us, tackles the question that why humans, of all living creatures, possess language and other animals don t They are quick to differentiate that by language, they don t mean communication The claim is that while it is very possible that several higher organisms have communication systems, only human beings have language.So what is language It s this system in the brain that takes words and expressions and orders them According to Berwick and Chomsky, humans, perhaps some 80,0000 years ago through a genetic mutation, evolved this ability to organise their thoughts They call the internal system that emerged Merge It can take any two words or expressions and form them into ever complicated sets For example, read and books to form read books Then I and read books to form I read books And so on.If we think about communication as something like the sounds you make with your mouth or the way a songbird sings, that s something external to the mind brain and which relies on linear order But if we think about language as some system internal to the mind brain, we quickly see that it doesn t rely on linear order but hierarchical order So here s an example Take the sentence The man who is tall is happy. Every young English speaking child knows that if you want to make that into a question, you take the is closest to the adjective there Is the man who is tall happy Vir...

  7. says:

    A fascinating book surveying the history of current theory and understanding of the origins and mechanisms of natural language, largely the neuroscience The title refers to a core question pursued why are humans the only creatures that possess language capability that meets the standard of what the authors call the Basic Property And the book does include interesting explanations of why primates and birds are not truly using a language The book is not a primer and you re very much jumping into the deep end of the pool in picking it up For the most part, Berwick and Chomsky lay out credible reasoning for their positions on a wide range of questions However, two recurrent problems, to my thinking, dog their expositions The first is a rigid insistence on syntax as the sole mechanism for parsing meaning from language My ...

  8. says:

    This book is was a concise and informative analysis of the evolution of language It argues that the faculty of language is not a mere communication ability but an important tool for thinking and imagination, which separates humans from other animals hence only us It then gives a somewhat detailed reasoning that the evolution of language must have happened in a much slower pace than classic Darwinian process The discussion includes evidence from biology, genetics, linguistics and even computer science fields It s a great book for those who seeks to know about the origins of language as a general human ability, and even generally, whether we, as a species, are really too different from other animals The only reason that I didn t give full score to this book was that it somewhat had a heavy languag...

  9. says:

    The Language Capacity Apparently unique to our species, the language capacity seems to have evolved relatively recently in evolutionary time How such a significant change could have come about in such a short period contradicts the gradualist view of evolution, but the authors convincingly argue that large phenotypic changes may result from small genetic changes The explanation that stochastic factors besides natural selection play a large part in evolutionary change is fascinating I found the argument that our language capacity is qualitatively different from anything existing in other species convincing, namely our ability to use the Basic Property of Merge to recursively generate a digitally infinite array of possible sentences and the idea of la...

  10. says:

    This was indirectly a nice overview of the broad worldview surrounding modern Minimalist syntax However, the actual discussion of the book s new, UG oriented, take on the origin of language is repetitive and confusingly structured The four chapters seem to have come from separate papers written for similar audiences, and there is no introduction or conclusion Further, several of the choices about what to include are a bit strange, and it s often hard to reconstruct the full argument behind each chapter.I can t say I fully buy the main claim This academic review puts it nicely There is imbalance in this book between covering evolutionary biology vs syntactic theory BC proceed as if minimalism is a given, well known, and hardly controversial, wh...

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