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Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
School of Writing, Rhetoric, and Technical Communication
This text posits the emergence of language as a function of brain-hemispheric feedback, where “emergence” refers to the generation of complex patterns from relatively simple interactions, “language” refers to an abstraction-based and representational-recombinatorial-recursive mapping-signaling system, “function” refers to an input-output relationship described by fractal algorithms, “brain-hemispheric” refers to complementary (approach-abstraction / avoidance-gestalt) cognitive modules, and “feedback” refers to self-regulation driven by neural inhibition and recruitment. The origin of language marks the dawn of human self-awareness and culture, and is thus a matter of fundamental and cross-disciplinary interest. This text is a synthesized research essay that constructs its argument by drawing diverse scholarly voices into a critical, cross-disciplinary intertextual narrative. While it does not report any original empirical findings, it harnesses those made by others to offer a tentative, partial solution—one that can later be altered and expanded—to a problem that has occupied thinkers for centuries. The research contained within this text is preceded by an introductory Section 1 that contextualizes the problem of the origin of language. Section 2 details the potential of evolutionary theory for addressing the problem, and the reasons for the century-long failure of linguistics to take advantage of that potential. Section 3 reviews the history of the discovery of brain lateralization, as well as its behavioral and structural characteristics. Section 4 discusses evolutionary evidence and mechanisms in terms of increasing adaptive complexity and intelligence, in general, and tool use, in particular. Section 5 combines chaos theory, brain science, and semiotics to propose that, after the neotenic acquisition of contingency-based abstraction, language emerged as a feedback interaction between the left-hemisphere abstract word and the right-hemisphere gestalt image. I conclude that the model proposed here might be a valuable tool for understanding, organizing, and relating data and ideas concerning human evolution, language, culture, and psychology. I recommend, of course, that I present this text to the scholarly community for criticism, and that I continue to gather and collate relevant data and ideas, in order to prepare its next iteration.
La Freniere, Eric Alexander, "The emergence of language as a function of brain-hemispheric feedback" (2012). Masters Theses. 257.