Language, Innateness, and Universals

Andy Clark*, Jennifer B. Misyak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Using the preceding chapter as a point of departure, this chapter offers a critical perspective on the notion of innate universals. It presents a " minimal nativism" view, according to which a brain area should be seen as embodying a kind of language universal if it is genetically predisposed toward fulfilling a certain sufficiently general linguistic function, for example by virtue of its strategic connectivity. On this view, Broca's area could still count as the brain locus of a linguistic universal, even if it supports other functions beside language.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLanguage Universals
EditorsMorten H. Christiansen, Christopher Collins, Shimon Edelman
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780199866953
ISBN (Print)9780195305432
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Broca's area
  • Human brain
  • Innate universals
  • Language universals
  • Minimal nativism


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