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This course follows a simple idea, that syntax evolved gradually/incrementally (through well-defined stages), and that these stages are not only still evident in various modern constructions (“fossils”), but that they also provide a scaffolding for building more complex structures.
The subject matter of the phylogenetic emergence of language in mankind preoccupied many philosophers and philologists from Antiquity to the mid-19th century, when La Société de linguistique de Paris imposed a ban on it in 1866. The ban has been ignored since the late 20th century. Speculations and publications have increased substantially, leading also to the emergence of what some now call evolutionary linguistics as a research area.