Impossible Languages (Hardcover)

Impossible Languages By Andrea Moro Cover Image
$21.95
Sorry, Currently unavailable or backordered

Description


An investigation into the possibility of impossible languages, searching for the indelible “fingerprint” of human language.

Can there be such a thing as an impossible human language? A biologist could describe an impossible animal as one that goes against the physical laws of nature (entropy, for example, or gravity). Are there any such laws that constrain languages? In this book, Andrea Moro—a distinguished linguist and neuroscientist—investigates the possibility of impossible languages, searching, as he does so, for the indelible “fingerprint” of human language.

Moro shows how the very notion of impossible languages has helped shape research on the ultimate aim of linguistics: to define the class of possible human languages. He takes us beyond the boundaries of Babel, to the set of properties that, despite appearances, all languages share, and explores the sources of that order, drawing on scientific experiments he himself helped design. Moro compares syntax to the reverse side of a tapestry revealing a hidden and apparently intricate structure. He describes the brain as a sieve, considers the reality of (linguistic) trees, and listens for the sound of thought by recording electrical activity in the brain. Words and sentences, he tells us, are like symphonies and constellations: they have no content of their own; they exist because we listen to them and look at them. We are part of the data.

About the Author


Andrea Moro is Professor of General Linguistics at the Institute for Advanced Study (IUSS) in Pavia, Italy. He is the author of Dynamic Antisymmetry, Impossible Languages, and The Boundaries of Babel (all published by the MIT Press), and other books, including The Raising of Predicates and I Speak, Therefore I Am.

Praise For…


"Impossible Languages is written in a succinct and easy-to-follow style, focusing on what makes human language distinct from any other communication system."
–Journal of Universal Language


Product Details
ISBN: 9780262034890
ISBN-10: 0262034891
Publisher: The MIT Press
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2016
Pages: 160
Language: English