A theory of glossogenesis

Kastner, Charles W. (2003) A theory of glossogenesis. [Preprint]

Full text available as:



We present a theory of glossogenesis, i.e. a theory of the origin of language, based on the following ideas: 1) on the road to present-day human language, man developed a series of protolanguages of gradually increasing complexity, 2) there exists within human language a well-defined hierarchy of syntactic structures, with higher level structures dependent on all lower level structures, 3) the above-mentioned hierarchy is linear, so that one can define the nth protolanguage to be the language containing the nth syntactic structure in addition to all n-1 syntactic structures above it in the hierarchy, 4) the hierarchy of syntactic structures can be deduced from the physical world, 5) the selection process at work involved competing, hostile groups speaking different protolanguages or the same protolanguage with different levels of proficiency, 6) a group speaking one protolanguage had better survival chances than a rival group speaking the same protolanguage with less proficiency or a less complex protolanguage within the same environment, everything else being equal, 7) as one approached modern human language in the hierarchy, the selection advantage for the individual with greater linguistic proficiency became increasingly important. The above-mentioned hierarchy is shown to lead to mathematical structures from category theory. The theory is testable in that it predicts that simulations of language evolution must generate syntax elements in a certain order. It also provides a broad explanation for the evolution of human culture as reflected in the material record, providing an explicit timeline for the development of syntax structure. This timeline indicates that language developed slowly, starting with the ability to associate words with objects about 1.5 million years ago.

Item Type:Preprint
Subjects:Linguistics > Historical Linguistics
ID Code:2839
Deposited By: Kastner, Charles W.
Deposited On:24 Mar 2003
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55


Repository Staff Only: item control page