MIT Claims to Have Found a “Language Universal” that Ties All Languages Together

A language universal would bring evidence to Chomsky’s controversial theories.

Although the paper only looked at 37 languages, it’s actually incredibly difficult to build these databases of language in use, which makes it a reasonably impressive sample, she said. There is a problem here, though: many of the languages studied are related to one another, representing only a few of the huge number of language families, so we’d expect them to behave in similar ways. More research is going to be needed to control for language relatedness.

“There are many proposed universal properties of language, but basically all of them are controversial,” she explained. But it’s plausible, she added, that DLM—or something like it—could be a promising candidate for a universal cognitive mechanism that affects how languages are structured.     Read the full article | ARS TECHNICA UK

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