Theories of Language Evolution

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B.Com General – 1st Semester
Subject Name: Language – Functional English
Subject code: BCC 101
Summer Drive 2012
4 credits (60 marks)
(BKID: B1294)
Set 1

1. What is the difference between the theories of language evolution?

1.2.3 Language evolution and memes
It is possible to imagine numerous potential scenarios by which language might have evolved as a purely biological adaptation. However, Susan Blackmore, reveals a different theory of language evolution in her book The Meme Machine. She proposes that it evolved for the sake of being a characteristic of a culture (memes), not as an adaptation for the benefit of genes. Susan says that memes first came into existence with the advent of true imitation in humans, which allowed the former to spread through populations. Recalling production of new copies or that fecundity is necessary for a replicator. She also said that the language came into existence to serve the purpose of being a mechanism for improving the fecundity of memes. Sound transmission has many advantages for the purpose – sounds can be heard by multiple listeners and can be used even at night. After sound transmission (proto-language) came into existence, the "digitalization" of language into discrete words arose as a mechanism for ensuring meme fidelity, or lack of errors in the new copies. She explains that those alterations that produce the most copies of the highest fidelity will be those that predominate, thus improving the language. Blackmore goes on to suggest that grammar was an adaptation to improve the fecundity and fidelity of existing memes; its recursive structure then provided the framework for the development of more complex memes, which then favored the existence of more complex grammar, etc. in a self-sustaining process. Furthermore, language then began to exert pressure on the genes, creating a selection pressure toward bigger brains that are better at language. If people prefer to mate with those possessing the best or most memes, then the genes that allowed those people to be good meme-spreaders will be differentially transmitted into the next generation. This process again leads to a self-catalytic process of brain evolution that places a strong survival and reproductive advantage on those most capable of meme transmission. Finally, Blackmore believes that language is an unavoidable result of the existence of memes, which follow naturally from the ability to imitate (an ability that is, surprisingly, realized in very few species). She states, "Verbal language is almost an inevitable result of memetic selection. First, sounds are a good candidate for high-fecundity transmission of behaviour. Second, words are an obvious way to digitise the process and so increase its fidelity. Third, grammar is a next step for increasing fidelity and fecundity yet again, and all of these will aid memorability and hence longevity".

2. What are the common mistakes done while writing declarative sentences? Give examples of each of them.

2.5.3 Statement
A statement is also known by the name of a declarative sentence. This type of sentence simply states a fact, an argument or an idea, without requiring any answer or action from the reader. It does not give a command or request, nor does it ask a question. There are two types of statements, viz.

1. Unconditional statement
2. Conditional statement
Let us understand both of them one by one.
1. Unconditional Statement: These are the statements without any condition in them. Example,
(a) Marina plays the piano.
(b) I think you will pass.
(c) I have forgotten his name.
(d) She asked which drink I preferred.
2. Conditional Statement: These are the statements with a condition(s) in a clause accompanied by the main clause which shows the action. The conditional statements are of three types:
(a) The open conditional statement.
(b) The hypothetical conditional statement.
(c) The unfulfilled hypothetical statement.
Let us...
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