Language structure: Psychological and social constraints

Synthese 159 (1):99 - 130 (2007)
In this article we discuss the notion of a linguistic universal, and possible sources of such invariant properties of natural languages. In the first part, we explore the conceptual issues that arise. In the second part of the paper, we focus on the explanatory potential of horizontal evolution. We particularly focus on two case studies, concerning Zipf’s Law and universal properties of color terms, respectively. We show how computer simulations can be employed to study the large scale, emergent, consequences of psychologically and psychologically motivated assumptions about the working of horizontal language transmission.
Keywords Language universals  Evolution  Game theory
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    Herbert Paul Grice (1967/1987). Logic and Conversation. In Paul Grice (ed.), Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press. 41-58.

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