On the Windows Approach to language evolution
It is widely believed that evidential paucity represents one of the major obstacles to respectable work on language evolution. This is the problem of the lack of direct evidence about the various factors that might or might not have been involved in the first emergence and subsequent development of language in our species. The Windows Approach to the study of language evolution represents an outcome of attempts to ameliorate this problem. It proceeds from the assumption that language evolution can be studied by examining other phenomena about which there is direct evidence. The article aims, on the one hand, to clarify the conceptual foundations of the Windows Approach, as these are manifested in various (putative) windows on language evolution. On the other hand, it aims to make a general appraisal of the merits of this approach. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.