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Is There an Evolution of Language?

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Chmielewski, Piotr
Conference: Colloquium at the Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis
Location: Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Conf. Date: October 12
Date: 1992
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4867
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): language
Abstract: "In this paper, I discuss the problem of the evolution of language in human societies. In the area of linguistics and other branches of anthropology, there is a controversy on whether languages evolve. I must confess right at the beginning that in that controversy I take the side of those who argue in support of the evolution of language. If we were able to discuss the problem of the evolution of culture, we should be able to discuss the evolution of language. There is a myriad of languages in this world. Every language presents a unique configuration of its elements. That configuration is the result of the history of a given people. It means that for the language users their language is an appropriate cultural tool. Every language serves its linguistic community to its best. However, a given culture is not the only context of a given language, there is also the environment of other cultures, and we can say that the problem of adaptation is strictly evolutionary. To understand the evolutionary role of language, one should approach it not so much as a system sui generis but as a human attribute; as a medium of communication and an important component of human thought."

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