Those advocating the existence of a distinct language instinct generally claim that human language is not reliant on general human cognition. However, limitations on recursive patterns in human language are universally attested, from the micro-level elements of phonology, throughout the mid-level elements of morphology and syntax, and up to the macro-level elements of reference in discourse. What these limitations appear to reveal is a pattern seen in other areas of human cognition, namely the human inability to actively recall and balance more than three interdependent variables at a time. Building upon these data patterns and an array of typological postulates, the theory developed in this work offers an alternative lens through which to view language as a landscape of three-dimensional cube patterns which routinely simplify to the two-dimensional square level but never venture up to the four-dimensional tesseract level. Since a better understanding of how the human mind processes information can come by way of knowing how the human mind does not process information, the findings in this study, if borne out herein and beyond, promise to additionally inform cognitive science, computational linguistics, and artificial intelligence.
recursion, center embedding, discontinuous constituency, haplology, metathesis
Level of Degree
Department of Linguistics
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Adam, Christopher. "Three-Dimensional Constraints on Human Cognition as Expressed in Human Language." (2015). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/ling_etds/1