Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary

Why and how the problem of the evolution of Universal Grammar (UG) is hard1

Stevan Harnada1

a1 Chaire de Recherche du Canada, Institut des Sciences Cognitives, Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Montreal, Quebec, H3C 3P8, Canada; and Department of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom.


Christiansen & Chater (C&C) suggest that language is an organism, like us, and that our brains were not selected for Universal Grammar (UG) capacity; rather, languages were selected for learnability with minimal trial-and-error experience by our brains. This explanation is circular: Where did our brain's selective capacity to learn all and only UG-compliant languages come from?

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