The Language Lottery: Promises, Promises...

Rudolf P. Botha


In The Language Lottery (henceforth ''LL''), Lightfoot presents an account of how linguistics may be construed as a biological science that pursues the question "What is the genetic, internally prescribed structure of language?" (p. x). 1) He does this by trying to describe the work of Chomsky and his associates "accurately and faithfully", "revamping" their ideas only in the interests of the nonspecialist audience of linguists, biologists, ethologists, psychologists, and anthropologists that he wants to reach (p. xi). Given the richness of the content· of this work and the arbitrariness of the traditional boundaries between linguistics, biology, psychology, etc., Lightfoot's attempt to make this work accessible to such a heterogeneous audience should be welcomed. And from the highly positive appraisals of LL by Marshall, Keil, and no one less than Chomsky himself on the back cover of the book, one may infer that Lightfoot has succeeded remarkably well in whaL he has set out to do.

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