Towards an Understanding of Language Origins

Eörs Szathmary

Abstract Understanding of language is difficult since we do not know how it is being processed in the brain. Many areas of the human brain are involved in the relevant activities, even for syntactic operations. Aspects of the language faculty have significant heritability. There seems to have been positive selection for enhanced linguistic ability in our evolutionary past, even if most implied genes are unlikely to affect only the language faculty. It seems that complex theory of mind, teaching, complex cooperation and language together form an adaptive suite in the human race. It is plausible that genes changed in evolution so as to render the human brain more proficient in linguistic processing. An Evolutionary Neurogenetic Algorithm (ENGA) is also reviewed that holds promise that we shall ultimately understand how genes can rig the development of cognitively specialised neuronal networks.

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