Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis

By David Birdsong | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
Co-Evolution of Language Size and the Critical Period

James R. Hurford Simon Kirby University of Edinburgh


INTRODUCTION: GENE-LANGUAGE CO-EVOLUTION

Species evolve, very slowly, through selection of genes that give rise to phenotypes well adapted1 to their environments. The cultures, including the languages, of human communities evolve much faster, maintaining at least a minimum level of adaptedness to the external, noncultural environment. In the phylogenetic evolution of species, the transmission of information across generations is via copying of molecules, and innovation is by mutation and sexual recombination. In cultural evolution, the transmission of information across generations is by learning, and innovation is by sporadic invention or borrowing from other cultures. This much is the foundational bedrock of evolutionary theory.

But things get more complicated; there can be gene-culture coevolution.2 Prior to the rise of culture, the physical environment is the only force shaping biological evolution from outside the organism, and cultures themselves are clearly constrained by the evolved biological characteristics of their members. But cultures become part of the external environment and influence the course of biological evolution. For example, altruistic cultures with developed medical knowledge reduce the cost to the individual of carrying genes disposing to certain

____________________
1
Not every property of an organism is adaptive, of course; spandrels do exist.
2
Although not uncontroversial, the idea of gene-culture co-evolution has been developed in a variety of models, including Lumsden and Wilson ( 1981) and Boyd and Richerson ( 1985); Dawkins and Krebs ( 1984) proposed a co-evolutionary mechanism at the root of the evolution of signaling systems, and Deacon ( 1992) discussed human brain-language co-evolution in detail.

-39-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Second Language Acquisition and the Critical Period Hypothesis
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved in your active project from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 191

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Upgrade your membership to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.