Yury Natochin, Professor of Saint Petersburg State University, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and Professor Tatiana Chernigovskaya, Director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Studies, have published a joint research into the similarity of the evolution of biological systems and languages.
Their article in Biological Communications magazine provides a comparison of two systems evolution — in homeostatic and in language systems – and suggests there are certain evolutionary universals, a spokesperson for the University told Saint-Petersburg TV Channel.
They argue that the patterns of evolution of functions are hierarchically organized according to four main levels: I — the primary level: a cell in biology, a phoneme in language; II — functional units: a nephron, a morpheme; III — organs: a kidney (a lung, a heart, etc.), a word; IV — systems: physico-chemical constancy, a sentence or a phrase.
The laws of evolution seem to be relevant not only for biological domains, but for informational systems. Thus, both words and organs are multifunctional, as a word can have several meanings. Moreover, the mechanism of regress applies to both biological and informational systems, when an organism stops adapting to the changing conditions and a word gets out of usage.
According to the researchers, these universals are valid not only for natural languages, but for artificial informational systems like programming languages.
Photo: St. Petersburg TV channel