Conceptual Structure and the Emergence of the Language Faculty: Much Ado about Knotting

Abstract One perspective in contemporary linguistic theory defends the idea that the language faculty may result from the combinations of diverse systems and principles. As a case study, I critique a recent proposal by Juan Uriagereka and colleagues according to which the evolutionary emergence of the language faculty can be identified through studying the computational structure of knots as present within the fossil record. I here argue that the ability to conceptualize and, thereby, create knots is not parasitic on the ability to conceptualize and create language. On the contrary, these two domains are entirely distinct, unrelatable in terms of their computational complexity, expressive power or, most importantly, in terms of their requisite mental operations and principles. The overall approach defended here can profitably be employed in the study of the relationship between language and thought, as I briefly discuss in the case of the role of language in spatial reorientation
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DOI 10.1080/09672559.2012.713380
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Peter Carruthers (2002). The Cognitive Functions of Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (6):657-674.

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