February 19, 2008

Social cognition and dynamics of cultural evolution

Language Evolution V: Christiansen & Kirby (2003)
from Shared Symbolic Storage by Michael

As I’m going home over the vacation and thus will only have relatively infrequent access to the internet, I’ll write some kind of preliminary presentation of my discussion of language evolution by presenting the contributions found in Kirby and Christiansen’s (2003) anthology “Language Evolution.” Kirby and Christansen tried to get together the “big names” in the study of language evolution, and had them write some kind of an introduction to their take on the key issues on the topic. I will present the contributions when I find the time, probably infrequently.

The book includes 17 contributions, with the first chapter being some kind of general introduction by the editors. I will briefly discuss each contribution, trying to give a short overview on the main approaches to the topic...

Of course, since then a lot of interesting things happened, and some approaches defintiely have gained importance. The most influential elaborations were I think in the Area of Social Cognition, as illustrated by Tomasello et al.'s (2005) paper, and, for example, this excellent new blog post by Edmund Blair Bolles. The other area were much progress was made was theoretical inquiry into the dynamics of cultural evolution, and especially its (mathematical) application to historical language evolution.

So in my next post I’ll write about Pinker’s approach, or rather about the extensions and modifications of his original framework in (Pinker & Bloom 1990)

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