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Evolutionary psychology of language

Evolutionary psychology of language is the study of the evolutionary history of language as a psychological faculty within the discipline of evolutionary psychology.

There are many competing theories of how language evolved. It stems from the belief that language development could result from an adaptation, an exaptation, or a by-product. Genetics also influence the study of the evolution of language. It has been speculated that the FOXP2 gene may be what gives humans the ability to develop grammar and syntax.

In the debate surrounding the evolutionary psychology of language, three sides emerge: those who believe in language as an adaptation, those who believe it is a by-product of another adaptation, and those who believe it is an exaptation.

Scientist and psychologists Steven Pinker and Paul Bloom argue that language as a mental faculty shares many likenesses with the complex organs of the body which suggests that, like these organs, language has evolved as an adaptation, since this is the only known mechanism by which such complex organs can develop. The complexity of the mechanisms, the faculty of language and the ability to learn language provides a comparative resource between the psychological evolved traits and the physical evolved traits.

Pinker, though he mostly agrees with Noam Chomsky, a linguist and cognitive scientist, in arguing that the fact that children can learn any human language with no explicit instruction suggests that language, including most of grammar, is basically innate and that it only needs to be activated by interaction, but Pinker and Bloom argue that the organic nature of language strongly suggests that it has an adaptational origin.



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