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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

By Ingrid Piller

Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice "prompts thinking about linguistic disadvantage as a form of structural disadvantage that needs to be recognized and taken seriously."


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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

By Rudolf Botha

Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Dissection of molecular mechanisms underlying speech and language disorders
Author: Simon E. Fisher
Institution: Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics
Linguistic Field: Neurolinguistics; Psycholinguistics
Abstract: Developmental disorders affecting speech and language are highly heritable, but very little is currently understood about the neuromolecular mechanisms that underlie these traits. Integration of data from diverse research areas, including linguistics, neuropsychology, neuroimaging, genetics, molecular neuroscience, developmental biology, and evolutionary anthropology, is becoming essential for unraveling the relevant pathways. Recent studies of the FOXP2 gene provide a case in point. Mutation of FOXP2 causes a rare form of speech and language disorder, and the gene appears to be a crucial regulator of embryonic development for several tissues. Molecular investigations of the central nervous system indicate that the gene may be involved in establishing and maintaining connectivity of corticostriatal and olivocerebellar circuits in mammals. Notably, it has been shown that FOXP2 was subject to positive selection in recent human evolution. Consideration of findings from multiple levels of analysis demonstrates that FOXP2 cannot be characterized as "the gene for speech," but rather as one critical piece of a complex puzzle. This story gives a flavor of what is to come in this field and indicates that anyone expecting simple explanations of etiology or evolution should be prepared for some intriguing surprises.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Applied Psycholinguistics Vol. 26, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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