Evolutionary developmental linguistics: naturalization of the faculty of language
Since language is a biological trait, it is necessary to investigate its evolution, development, and functions, along with the mechanisms that have been set aside, and are now recruited, for its acquisition and use. It is argued here that progress toward each of these goals can be facilitated by new programs of research, carried out within a new theoretical framework—one that could be called “evolutionary developmental linguistics” (EDL)—respecting current developments in biology, anthropology, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. EDL is concerned with the evolution of developmental properties, processes, and stages (evo → devo) that independently, or in concert with other environmental changes, facilitated the emergence of language in the species (devo → evo). I describe recent work carried out within this framework, and suggest future lines of research. The faculty of language stands to benefit from a synthesis of evolution and development, as does the field of linguistics.