Des réels dangers de l'ingénierie inverse
By blurring this distinction, Pinker and Jackendoff mischaracterize our hypothesis 3 which concerns only FLN, not “language” as a whole. [For many linguists, “language” delineates an abstract core of computational operations, central to language and probably unique to humans [narrow]. For many biologists and psychologists, “language” has much more general and various meanings, roughly captured by “the communication system used by human beings.” [broad]]. Many of their arguments and examples are thus irrelevant to this hypothesis. Their critique of the minimalist program is for the most part equally irrelevant, because very few of the arguments in our original paper were tied to this program; in an online appendix we detail the deep inaccuracies in their characterization of this program. Concerning evolution, we believe that Pinker and Jackendoff’s emphasis on the past adaptive history of the language faculty is misplaced. Such questions are unlikely to be resolved empirically due to a lack of relevant data, and invite speculation rather than research. Preoccupation with the issue has retarded progress in the field by diverting research away from empirical questions, many of which can be addressed with comparative data.
We conclude that progress in understanding the evolution of language will require much more empirical research, grounded in modern comparative biology, more interdisciplinary collaboration, and much less of the adaptive storytelling and phylogenetic speculation that has traditionally characterized the field.