There is considerable controversy over what structures in the brain restrict all human languages to the same deep structure. Some linguists reject an innate neurological organ devoted specifically to language. Conceiving that it is only the brain’s general abilities that are “pre-organized,” they envisage language as a learned skill based on a “functional language system” and design constraints, distributed across numerous cortical and subcortical structures.
Yet however it is derived during development, there is no doubt that a unique deep structure underlies the languages of all members of our species. It is because of the same underlying deep structure that we can speak the language of the San Bushman or an Australian aborigine, and they in turn can speak English. The fact that all modern humans, despite their long “evolutionary separation” — some modern races such as the San of the Kalahari and the Australian aborigines have been separated by perhaps 400,000 years of independent evolution — can learn each other’s languages implies that this deep grammar must have remained unchanged since all modern humans (African and non-African) diverged from their last common African ancestor, at least 200,000 years ago. As Chomsky puts it: … More.
See also: Can we talk? Language as the business end of consciousness
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