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Picture of Kaleidoscopic Grammar

Kaleidoscopic Grammar

Investigation into the Nature of Binarism

Author(s): Junichi Toyota

Book Description

This monograph deals with binary features in the evolution of human civilisation and cognition, with a particular focus on language. Our life is surrounded by various pairs of binary features, and this is termed binarism in this work. Binarism is pervasive, ranging from nature (biological) to culture (anthropological and archaeological) and, without a doubt, to language. Binarim serves as a good base for further development, and as a system becomes more complex, binarism is broken and more complex systems involving third or fourth options emerge.

In the case of language, the earliest human language, as argued here, consisted only of nouns; however, these nouns had a distinction between active and inactive nouns. The active nouns referred to action or productivity, which later turned into verbs and inactive nouns stayed as nouns. It was during this period that language became equipped with a base to develop further with a distinction between noun and verb. This is the onset of various changes towards the complexity of modern languages, essentially, kaleidoscopic grammar. Various changes in language stem from binarism, and as languages evolve, the pairs such as noun v. verb are broken and a grammatical system in general becomes more complex.

The importance of binarism is not restricted to language and it is a powerful tool in evolution at different levels. The pervasiveness of binarism is a specific feature that should not be overlooked in evolution as a whole.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-1446-1
ISBN-10: 1-4438-1446-6
Date of Publication: 01/12/2009
Pages / Size: 199 / A5
Price: £34.99


Junichi Toyota is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Cognitive Semiotics, Lund University and a visiting professor of linguistics and Japanese studies at the University of Belgrade. His research interests cover a wide range of disciplines, including linguistics, anthropology and cognitive science. His publications are mainly focused on historical linguistics and cognitive linguistics, but also deal with the evolution of human linguistic ability.