Wolfgang Wildgen (University of Bremen, Germany) Linguistic functionalism in an evolutionary context. 40th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea 29 August - 1 September 2007 University of Joensuu, Finland. Classical functionalism.
40th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea29 August - 1 September 2007University of Joensuu, Finland
The so-called functions of language (cf. Bühler and Jakobson) had to emerge from a prior configuration of communicative and behavioral functions, which were already present in mammals. Thus the theoretical foundation of functionalism in a larger context asks for:
The goal of this contribution is to:
Martinet (1975: 39) distinguished three types of (selective) forces:
appealSign-functions and their evolutionary significance
For Bühler, functions (aims, intentions) are kinds of vital needs and thus presuppose the level of life (of animals). If such needs (or instincts in traditional terminology) are ge-neralized beyond animals and humans, a higher level of generalization can be reached.
If representation is in its first stages already present in socially organized primates (or even in monkeys), the transition to humans concerns mainly:
If in a further step one assumes that representation emerges from ecological cognition (categorization of an ecology) and expression/appeal from some structure of the group (primitive, non-conscious social categorization of behavior), one obtains three inclusive levels,
Meta-representation from ecological cognition (categorization of an ecology) and expression/appeal from some structure of the group (primitive, non-conscious social categorization of behavior), one obtains three inclusive levels,
Meta-communicationFunctional hierarchy at three levels
The inner circle is reached by all animals with a social organization and specific reactions to their environment,
the middle circle concerns animal communication with a minimal reference to the context and
the outer circle encompasses humans
As in child development, the increase of the lexicon (1 and 2) asks for a proper phonological organization. Therefore, phonology (enabled be an efficient cognition/memory/motor planning of phonetic sequences) is a self-organized outcome of an increased lexicon. In a similar way syntax is a self-organized consequence of larger utterances, which are less context-dependent.
In relation to overall selective pressure this means that:
As a consequence, it becomes impossible to judge the functional power of a language in relation only to sub-components. Moreover, the context of usage becomes an important factor.