OA research in the news: Why Only Us?

New book co-written by Noam Chomsky explores the evolution of language

Chomsky and Berwick: Why only us?Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist and co-discoverer of evolution by natural selection, once said he was confused about language because humans didn’t need it. People, he said, could get by with a brain the size of an ape. So why do we have it?

How and why humans acquired a distinctive language, unlike that of any other species, is a “special puzzle,” as MIT computer scientist Robert Berwick calls it. Berwick and MIT linguist Noam Chomsky explore this puzzle in their new book, Why Only Us: Language and Evolution, published this month by the MIT Press. The book looks at what language is, how and where it arose, and what purpose it may have played — why is it a useful trait?

Explore Professor Chomsky’ research and Professor Berwick’s research in the Open Access Articles collection in DSpace@MIT, where it is openly accessible to the world.

Since the MIT faculty established their Open Access Policy in March 2009 they have made thousands of research papers freely available to the world via DSpace@MIT. To highlight that research, we’re offering a series of posts that link news stories about scholars’ work to their open access papers in DSpace.