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Tecumseh Fitch (Vienna U.), November 13

Human Language: Unique and Shared Features

Abstract

Human language is the crown jewel of human cognition: of all our cognitive capabilities, and it is language that sets us most drastically apart from other species. Despite the uniqueness of human language, as a whole, many of the cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in language are shared with other species. This means that, after breaking down language into its various component mechanisms, studies of nonhuman animals can shed considerable light on the biological basis of language from physiological, neural and genetic perspectives. Studies on animals are also logically to determine what features are or are not shared. I will illustrate how a comparative approach to the study of human language has illuminated multiple facets from vocal production  to syntax, allowing researchers to focus on a few unusual capabilities that, in combination, make our linguistic system a uniquely powerful tool for constructing and sharing thought.

Last checked 2018-10-18 by edith sjoerdsma

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