LanguageLinguistics

Studies of language and lingustics, particularly evolutionary linguistics, focus on the development of linguistic forms and transfer of changes, sounds or words, from one language system to another through networks of social interaction. Social networks are also important in language shift, as groups of people add and/or abandon languages to their repertoire. Evolutionary linguistics is a cover term for the scientific study of both the origins and development of language as well as the cultural evolution of languages. The main challenge in this research is the lack of empirical data: spoken language leaves practically no traces. This led to an abandonment of the field for more than a century. Since the late 1980s, the field has been revived in the wake of progress made in the related fields of psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, evolutionary anthropology, evolutionary psychology, and cognitive science. August Schleicher (18211868) and his Stammbaumtheorie are often quoted as the starting point of evolutionary linguistics. Inspired by the natural sciences, especially biology, Schleicher was the first to compare languages to evolving species. He introduced the representation of language families as an evolutionary tree in articles published in 1853. Joseph Jastrow published a gestural theory of the evolution of language in the seventh volume of Science, 1886. The Stammbaumtheorie proved to be very productive for comparative linguistics, but didn't solve the major problem of studying the origin of language: the lack of fossil records. The question of he origin of language was abandoned as unsolvable. Famously, the Societe Linguistique de Paris in 1866 refused to admit any further papers on the subject. The field has re-appeared in 1988 in the Linguistic Bibliography, as a subfield of psycholinguistics. In 1990, Steven Pinker and Paul Bloom published their paper "Natural Language & Natural Selection" which strongly argued for an adaptationist approach to language origins. Their paper is often credited with reviving the interest in evolutionary linguistics. This development was further strengthened by the establishment (in 1996) of a series of conferences on the Evolution of Language (now known as "Evolang"), promoting a scientific, multidisciplinary approach to the issue, and interest from major academic publishers (e.g., the Studies in the Evolution of Language series has been appearing with Oxford University Press since 2001) and scientific journals. In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description of the structure of a given language's morphemes and other linguistic units, such as root words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context (words in a lexicon are the subject matter of lexicology). Morphological typology represents a method for classifying languages according to the ways by which morphemes are used in a languagefrom the analytic that use only isolated morphemes, through the agglutinative ("stuck-together") and fusional languages that use bound morphemes (affixes), up to the polysynthetic, which compress many separate morphemes into single words.