Cognition and communication in the evolution of language by Anne Reboul

By Anne Reboul

This publication proposes a brand new two-step method of the evolution of language, wherein syntax first advanced as an auto-organizational method for the human conceptual gear (as a Language of Thought), and this Language of suggestion was once then externalized for verbal exchange, as a result of social choice pressures. Anne Reboul first argues that regardless of the regimen use of language in verbal exchange, present use isn't a failsafe Read more...


This publication exhibits that language, notwithstanding now in many instances used for communique, really basically advanced as a procedure for proposal. Anne Reboul proposes a brand new two-step technique wherein syntax first Read more...

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Source: Reboul (: ); compiled from the indications in Hauser () and Maynard Smith and Harper (). on, it is not displaced, not factive, not costly, and may or may not be under voluntary control. There is more to a signal than this list of features, however, and Maynard Smith and Harper (: ) have partially adopted the manipulative view of communication of Krebs and Dawkins (), as can be seen from the following definition: We define a ‘signal’ as any act or structure which alters the behaviour of other organisms, which evolved because of that effect, and which is effective because the receiver's response also evolved.

Thus the signal evolves both to alter receiver’s behaviour and to transfer information. This definition of a signal is rather too broad, however, as it encompasses not only ‘acts’ but ‘structures’. Given that we are interested in communication systems in as much as we are interested in the way in which language is a communication system, and given that language is behavioural, it makes sense to restrict the definition of the signal, as the unit of communication, to occurrent behaviours. Accordingly, I will reformulate Maynard Smith and Harper’s definition as follows: A ‘signal’ is any occurrent behaviour which alters the behaviour of other organisms, which evolved because of that effect, and which is effective because the receiver's response also evolved.

First published  by Oxford University Press. What is a communication system?  Relevance Theory (see Sperber and Wilson ): it sees language as qualitatively discontinuous from all other animal communication systems and denies that linguistic communication can be successfully analysed under a code model of communication. As we shall see, both types of approaches meet with insuperable difficulties that, I will argue, stem from the idea that language is a communication system in the strong sense.

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