The Boundaries of Babel: The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages

The Boundaries of Babel: The Brain and the Enigma of Impossible Languages

by Andrea Moro
     
 

ISBN-10: 0262134985

ISBN-13: 9780262134989

Pub. Date: 06/30/2008

Publisher: MIT Press

"In The Boundaries of Babel, Andrea Moro tells the story of an encounter between two cultures: contemporary theoretical linguistics and the cognitive neurosciences. The study of language within a biological context has been ongoing for more than fifty years. The development of neuroimaging technology offers new opportunities to enrich the "biolinguistic…  See more details below

Overview

"In The Boundaries of Babel, Andrea Moro tells the story of an encounter between two cultures: contemporary theoretical linguistics and the cognitive neurosciences. The study of language within a biological context has been ongoing for more than fifty years. The development of neuroimaging technology offers new opportunities to enrich the "biolinguistic perspective" and extend it beyond an abstract framework for inquiry. As a leading theoretical linguist in the generative tradition and also a cognitive scientist schooled in the new imaging technology, Moro is uniquely equipped to explore this." Moro examines what he calls the "hidden" revolution in contemporary science: the discovery that the number of possible grammars is not infinite and that their number is biologically limited. This radical but little-discussed change in the way we look at language, he claims, will require us to rethink not just the fundamentals of linguistics and neurosciences but also our view of the human mind. Moro searches for neurobiological correlates of "the boundaries of Babel" - the constraints on the apparent chaotic variation in human languages - by using an original experimental design based on artificial languages. He offers a critical overview of some of the fundamental results from linguistics over the last fifty years, in particular regarding syntax, then uses these essential aspects of language to examine two neuroimaging experiments in which he took part. He describes the two neuroimaging techniques used (positron emission topography, or PET, and functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI). but makes it clear that techniques and machines do not provide interesting data without asound theoretical framework. Finally, he discusses some speculative aspects of modern research in biolinguistics regarding the impact of the linear structure of linguistics expression on grammar, and more generally, some core aspects of language acquisition, genetics, and evolution.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262134989
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
06/30/2008
Series:
Current Studies in Linguistics, #46
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
328
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Foreword Noam Chomsky Chomsky, Noam

Translators' note

Prologue 1

1 Hidden Texture 7

2 Language in the Brain 121

3 The Form of Grammar 189

Epilogue 229

References 231

Name Index 245

Subject Index 251

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