Evo-Devo — Of Course, But Which One? Some Comments on Chomsky’s Analogies between the Biolinguistic Approach and Evo-Devo


  • Antonio Benítez-Burraco University of Huelva
  • Victor M. Longa University of Santiago de Compostela


evolutionary developmental biology, gene-centrism, Minima-list Program, Principles-and-Parameters Theory


In some recent papers, Chomsky has suggested some non-trivial analogies between the biolinguistic approach and evolutionary developmental biology (Evo-Devo). In this paper, the point is made that those analogies should be handled with caution. The reason is that the Evo-Devo version chosen by Chomsky in order to build the analogies fully assumes a gene-centric perspective. Although providing genes with a special power fits in well with the Principles-and-Parameters model, it does not agree at all with the reduction of the power attributed to genes that the Minimalist Program has placed on the agenda. Nevertheless, other Evo-Devo approaches exist that seem more accurate than the particular version adopted by Chomsky — approaches therefore which are more promising for fulfilling the minimalist biolinguistic approach.

Author Biographies

Antonio Benítez-Burraco, University of Huelva

Departmento de Filología Española y sus Didácticas Assistant Professor of Linguistics

Victor M. Longa, University of Santiago de Compostela

Departmento de Literatura Española, Teoría de la Literatura y Lingüística General Associate Professor of Linguistics