Chomsky and evolved language circuitry

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Thu Oct 04 2001 - 19:32:48 MDT

At 10:13 AM 10/4/01 -0400, John K Clark wrote:

>a small gene (only 6500 base pairs)
>on chromosome 7 that is responsible for human speech
>proves that there
>exist specific circuitry in the human brain that makes speech possible and
it probably
>evolved very recently. Chomsky has been saying this since 1959

Curiously enough, he hasn't--he's been quite hostile to specific
evolutionary explanations for generative grammar. Steven Pinker, e.g., has
tried to combine evolutionary explanations with Chomskyan X-bar theory,
etc, but Chomsky always found that level of explanation rather vulgarly
reductionist. My sense of it (as a non-expert) is that he regards language
as an emergent but highly rule-bound property of the whole brain. `These
skills may well have arisen as a concomitant of structural properties of
the brain that developed for other purposes' (Chomsky 1980, cited in THE

Damien Broderick

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