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English: The Language Instinct Debate

Master’s level
7,5 credits (ECTS)


In recent years, it has become generally accepted to claim that the human capacity for language has genetic foundations. Using Steven Pinker's book "The Language Instinct" as a starting point, we examine this view of language (the so-called 'Chomskyan view'), and its influence on linguistics and linguistic research methods. Amongst other aspects, we will discuss the nature of language, its structure, myths about language acquisition, how linguistics analyse data, and to a certain degree how language is integrated with culture and history. During the course, we will also consider criticism of the Chomskyan view by reading alternative theories, such as the functional and cognitive paradigms outlined respectively in Geoffrey Sampson's "The Language Instinct Debate" and Terrence Deacon's "The Symbolic Species".

Prerequisites and selection


Bachelor of Arts Degree or equivalent.


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