The Evolution of Language, Part II

Excellent science writer Carl Zimmer in his blog, The Loom:

In my last post, I traced a debate over the evolution of language. On one side, we have Steven Pinker and his colleagues, who argue that human language is, like the eye, a complex adaptation produced over millions of years through natural selection, favoring communication between hominids. On the other side, we have Noam Chomsky, Tecumseh Fitch, and Marc Hauser, who think scientists should explore some alternative ideas about language, including one hypothesis in which practically all the building blocks of human language were already in place long before our ancestors could speak, having evolved for other functions. In the current issue of Cognition, Pinker and Ray Jackendoff of Brandeis responded to Chomsky, Fitch, and Hauser with a long, detailed counterattack. They worked their way through many features of language, from words to syntax to speech, that they argued show signs of adaptation in humans specifically for language. The idea that almost of all of the language faculty was already in place is, they argue, a weak one.

More here.