Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Protosyntax

  • Dieter G. HillertEmail author
Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_3851-1

Synonyms

Definition

The term Protosyntax refers in cognitive science to a precursor stage of the human capacity for modern languages. It includes linear phrases with primarily uninflected nouns and verbs.

Introduction

The notion Protosyntax, also called protolanguage or linear grammar, is a possible window to our understanding of how the modern language capacity might have evolved from single words to complex syntactic structures. It typically refers to a hypothetical precursor stage in the language domain, but in principle, it can also refer to other cognitive capacities such as the Protosyntax of music. The linguistic notion implies that language evolved gradually in the hominid lineage from basic to more complex syntactic structures. Protosyntax uses a linear order of words, is non-hierarchical organized, and lacks inflectional morphology. For instance, it does not use inflections...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Bickerton, D. (1981). Roots of language. Ann Arbor: Karoma Publishers.Google Scholar
  2. Bickerton, D. (1990). Language and species. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Caselli, N., Ergin, R., Jackendoff, R., & Cohen-Goldberg, A. (2014). The emergence of phonological structure in Central Taurus Sign Language. Conference talk: From Sound to Gesture, Padua.Google Scholar
  4. Gil, D. (2005). Word order without syntactic categories: How Riau Indonesian does it. In A. Carnie, H. Harley, & S. A. Dooley (Eds.), Verb first: On the syntax of verb-initial languages (pp. 243–263). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Hillert, D. (2015). On the evolving biology of language. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01796.
  6. Hurford, J. (2012). The origins of grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Jackendoff, R. (1999). Possible stages in the evolution of language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3, 272–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Progovac, L. (2010). Syntax: Its evolution and its representation in the brain. Biolinguistics, 4, 234–254.Google Scholar
  9. Sandler, W., Meir, I., Padden, C., & Aronoff, M. (2005). The emergence of grammar in a new sign language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(7), 2661–2665.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Senghas, A., Kita, S., & Ozyurek, A. (2004). Children creating core properties of language: Evidence from an emerging sign language in Nicaragua. Science, 305(5691), 1779–1782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Todd K. Shackelford
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA