A Prospect for Evolutionary Adequacy: Merge and the Evolution and Development of Human Language

  • Koji Fujita Kyoto University
Keywords: action grammar, anti-lexicalism, evolutionary adequacy, FLN/ FLB, unbounded Merge


Biolinguistic minimalism seeks a deeper explanation of the design, development and evolution of human language by reducing its core domain to the bare minimum including the set-formation operation Merge. In an attempt to open an avenue of research that may lead to an evolutionarily adequate theory of language, this article makes the following proposals: (i) Merge is the elementary combinatorial device that requires no more decomposition; (ii) the precursor to Merge may be found in the uniquely human capacity for hierarchical object manipulation; (iii) the uniqueness of the human lexicon may also be captured in terms of Merge. Empirical validations of these proposals should constitute one major topic for the biolinguistic program.