Antonino Pennisi, Alessandra Falzone, Laura Giallongo

Structural continuity and cognitive discontinuity in articulated language: theoretical models and empirical evaluation

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Vocal Articulation; Structural Continuity; Cognitive Discontinuity; Biological Constraint.

The recent philosophical debate on the evolution of language was dominated by functionalist hypotheses, which support a functional continuity in the origin of language but do not clarify the causes of structural transformations, making it difficult to apply scientific methods to the study of functions. On the contrary, the anti-functionalist positions developed in the naturalistic field of Cognitive sciences and especially of Evo-Devo try to identify the level of the mechanical trigger of innovation, therefore they attribute the primacy of structures to novelty. In this frame of studies we propose a perspective that focuses on the relationship between structural continuity and cognitive discontinuity through the examination of the comparative study of the peripheral and central structures of the vocal articulation in order to understand the species-specific technicality of language. We posit that the latter does not lie in the computational syntax of thought that allows linguistic recursion, but is the result of biological constraints that enable the vocal articulation.

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