Human language seems to have arisen roughly within the last
50-100,000 years. In evolutionary terms, this is the mere blink of
an eye. If this is correct, then much of what we consider
distinctive to language must in fact involve operations available
in pre-linguistic cognitive domains. In this book Norbert
Hornstein, one of the most influential linguists working on syntax,
discusses a topical set of issues in syntactic theory, including a
number of original proposals at the cutting edge of research in
this area. He provides a theory of the basic grammatical operations
and suggests that there is only one that is distinctive to
language. If this theory is correct then this narrows the
evolutionary gap between verbal and non-verbal primates, thus
facilitating the rapid evolutionary emergence of our linguistic
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