Daniel Everett daniel.everett at
Tue May 31 14:44:30 UTC 2005

I don't disagree terribly with Steve Long's post. But since the
'truth' of whatever Aristotle or Plato proposed is largely past its
'sell-by' date, I think their value is mainly as inspiring this or
that programme, with the interpretation that best fits this or that
individual's reading. Not a lot of precision to get worked up about
for the most part.

I do agree with Steve's last line strongly: "When we look at function
however, that blur disappears.  What so-called
"evolutionary psychology" does not understand is the compelling power
of culture
and intentionality.  Whatever accident allowed human language, the
history of
language since than has hardly been been accidental, in the precise
sense that
biological evolution is driven by the accidental."

There is a large article appearing on some of these issues in this
summer's edition of Current Anthropology, with commentaries by
several eminent anthropologists and psychologists/psycholinguists. A
near-final version of the paper (sans the commentaries and my reply)
can be downloaded from my website. Basically, my point is that
language evolution is on-going and heavily influenced by culture.

Dan Everett

Daniel L. Everett
Professor of Phonetics & Phonology
School of Languages, Linguistics, and Cultures
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL UK
Fax: +44 (0) 161 275 3031.
Phone: + 44 (0) 161 275 3158

"It does not seem likely, therefore, that there is any direct
relation between the culture of a tribe and the language they speak,
except in so far as the form of the language will be moulded by the
state of the culture, but not in so far as a certain state of the
culture is conditioned by morphological traits of the language." Boas

More information about the Funknet mailing list