Synthese 159 (1):99 - 130 (2006)

Robert Van Rooij
University of Amsterdam
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 Philosophy   Philosophy of Language   Metaphysics   Epistemology   Logic   Philosophy
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Reprint years 2007
DOI 10.1007/s11229-006-9073-5
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References found in this work BETA

Natural Language and Natural Selection.Steven Pinker & Paul Bloom - 1990 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 13 (4):707-27.
Basic Color Terms: Their Universality and Evolution.Brent Berlin & Paul Kay - 1999 - Center for the Study of Language and Information.

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Citations of this work BETA

Vagueness and Imprecise Imitation in Signalling Games.Michael Franke & José Pedro Correia - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1037-1067.
The Rationality of Vagueness.Igor Douven - forthcoming - In Richard Dietz (ed.), Vagueness and rationality. Springer.
The Evolution of Convex Categories.Gerhard Jäger - 2007 - Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (5):551-564.

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