Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
MacNeilage: Evolution of speech

The frame/content model and syntactic evolution

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy a1
a1 Department of Linguistics, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


The frame/content theory suggests that chewing was tinkered into speaking. A simple extrapolation of this approach suggests that syllable structure may have been tinkered into syntax. That would explain the widely noted parallels between sentence structure and syllable structure, and also the otherwise mysterious pervasiveness of the grammatical distinction between sentences and noun phrases.