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Journal Article

Response: Climate and language: has the discourse shifted?


Roberts,  Sean G.
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
INTERACT, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Everett, C., Blasi, D., & Roberts, S. G. (2016). Response: Climate and language: has the discourse shifted? Journal of Language Evolution, 1(1), 83-87. doi:10.1093/jole/lzv013.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-525C-7
We begin by thanking the respondents for their thoughtful comments and insightful leads. The overall impression we are left with by this exchange is one of progress, even if no consensus remains about the particular hypothesis we raise. To date, there has been a failure to seriously engage with the possibility that humans might adapt their communication to ecological factors. In these exchanges, we see signs of serious engagement with that possibility. Most respondents expressed agreement with the notion that our central premise—that language is ecologically adaptive—requires further exploration and may in fact be operative. We are pleased to see this shift in discourse, and to witness a heightening appreciation of possible ecological constraints on language evolution. It is that shift in discourse that represents progress in our view. Our hope is that future work will continue to explore these issues, paying careful attention to the fact that the human larynx is clearly sensitive to characteristics of ambient air. More generally, we think this exchange is indicative of the growing realization that inquiries into language development must consider potential external factors (see Dediu 2015)...