I like learning new things that may have future relevance.  That’s why this story from Science Daily especially appealed to me.  It taught me about the Baldwin Effect, an effect relevant enough to have over 9 million Google search results, and a Wikipedia entry, yet something I’d never heard of.  Essentially, the Baldwin Effect can be a sort of an evolutionary short cut from learning to instinct.  Animals that have a predisposition to learning anything (like language) that enhances its survivability can turn that anything into an instinct under lengthy continuous circumstances.  The study authors conclude that a “universal grammar” must have arisen by societal impetus that predates the relatively recent divergence of language over the last 100,000 years.

I personally believe the univeral grammar is an invention that describes a phenomenon that occurs because of universal human needs.  Because (nearly) all humans need to describe things that have happened, we get past tense, for instance.  There are guys and gals in all human cultures, and they all possess things, so we get possessive pronouns.  What linguistic construct exists that has been used as support for universal grammar, and is useful to one group of humans, but not another?  Let me know if you come up with one.

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