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Price: $67.50

Hardback 480 pp.
Figures, drawings, 171 mm x 246 mm



Publication date:
January 2009

Imprint: OUP UK

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Of Minds and Language

A Dialogue with Noam Chomsky in the Basque Country

Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, Juan Uriagereka and Pello Salaburu

This book presents a state-of-the-art account of what we know and would like to know about language, mind, and brain. Chapters by leading researchers in linguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, cognitive neuroscience, comparative cognitive psychology, and evolutionary biology are framed by an introduction and conclusion by Noam Chomsky, who places the biolinguistic enterprise in an historical context and helps define its agenda for the future.

The questions explored include:

What is our tacit knowledge of language?
What is the faculty of language?
How does it develop in the individual?
How is that knowledge put to use?
How is it implemented in the brain?
How did that knowledge emerge in the species?

The book includes the contributor's key discussions, which dramatically bring to life their enthusiasm for the enterprise and skill in communicating across disciplines. Everyone seriously interested in how language works and why it works the way it does are certain to find, if not all the answers, then a convincing, productive, and lively approach to the endeavour.

Readership : All linguists, evolutionary biologists, neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, evolutionary psychologists, philosophers of language, philosophers of mind, and all those interested in the role of language in human development, cognition, and communication.

1. Introduction
Part 1: Overtures
2. Noam Chomsky: Opening Remarks
3. Cedric Boeckx: The nature of Merge: Consequences for Language, Mind, and Biology
4. Marc D. Hauser: Evoling: The Nature of the Language Faculty
5. C. R. Gallistel: The Foundational Abstractions
6. Gabriel Dover: Pointers to a Biology of Language?
7. Donata Vercelli: Language in an Epigenetic Framework
8. Christopher Cherniak: Brain Wiring Optimization and Non-Genomic Nativism
Part 2: On Language
9. Wolfram Hinzen: Hierarchy, Merge, and Truth
10. James Higginbotham: Two Interfaces
11. Luigi Rizzi: Movement and Concepts of Locality
12. Juan Uriagereka: Uninterpretable Features in Syntactic Evolutiion
13. Angela D. Friederici: The Brain Differentiates Hierarchical and Probabilistic Grammars
14. Cedric Boeckz, Janet Dean Fodor, Lila Gleitman, Luigi Rizzi: Round Table: Language Universals: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Part 3: On Acquisition
15. Rochel Gelman: Innate Learning and Beyond
16. Lila Gleitman: The Learned Component of Language Learning
17. Janet Dean Fodor: Syntactic Acquisition: An Evaluation Measure After All?
18. Thomas G. Bever: Remarks on the Individual Basis for Linguistic Structures
Part 4: Open Talks on Open Inquiries
19. Marc D. Hauser: The Illusion of Biological variation: A Minimalist Approach to the Mind
20. Itziar Laka: What is There in Universal Grammar? On Innate and Specific Aspects of Language
21. Núria Sebastián-Gallés: Individual Differences in Foreigh Sound Perception
22. Angela D. Friederici: Language and the Brain
23. Noam Chomsky: Conclusion

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Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini is Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Arizona. He has held teaching and research positions at the Scientific Institute San Raffaele, MIT, the Collège de France, Rutgers University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland and the University of Bologna. His publications include Inevitable Illusions: How Mistakes of Reason Rule our Minds (Wiley 2004), Choix, décisions et préférences: Quatre leçons au Collège de France. (Odile Jacob, Paris (2006), L'illusione di sapere, and L'arte di persuadere (Mondadori 1993, 1995). Pello Salaburu is Professor of Basque Philology at the University of the Basque Country where he was President 1996-2000 and Vice President 1992-1996. He is Chair of the Grammar Commission of Euskaltzaindia (Royal Academy of the Basque Language), and a co-editor and co-author of Euskal Gramatika. Lehen Urratsak (seven volumes: 1985-2008) Juan Uriagereka is Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland. His books include Syntactic Anchors (CUP 2006), Derivations (Routledge, 2002) and Rhyme and Reason (MIT Press 1998).

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Special Features

  • The most genuinely interdisciplinary anywhere in the literature
  • An accessible and critical synthesis of today's perspectives on the study of language
  • Includes dramatic debates between world-class scholars