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Just a note: A very much enjoyed reading this whole post. I just snipped a relevant part below (and repaired, if I was writing in doing so, your list):

On Jan 20, 2013, at 11:07 AM, Melroch <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> At the risk of angering any
> Chomskyans I believe that there are four factors enabling and inclining
> humans to create and use language, none of them originally, primarily or
> exclusively linguistic in nature:
> 
> 1) The ability to think with and in terms of symbol and symbolized which
> are distinct yet arbitrarily linked. Symbolic thinking for short.
> 2) The ability to build up symbols from smaller parts which are themselves
> arbitrary and asymbolic. I call this 'double symbolization'.
> 3) The typically human way of vocalization.
> 4) The ability to usefully combine (2) and (3) aka double  articulation.
> 
> To these I should probably add the ability to replace (3) with something
> else if you aren't capable of it, an area I alas know very little of.
> 
> Humans are probably just the only species where all of these abilities are
> present.

I think this is a good list, but I would add one item:

5) The capacity for linguistic analogy (which itself is built off the capacity for abstract analogy).

This is really what allows languages to expand, in my opinion. Someone can hear a sentence like:

My mother was drinking water.

And generalize:

My X was Ying Z.

And then also:

My X was Ying.

And:

X was Ying.

Etc.

And the patterns themselves are used to generate new patterns, which hold if the hearer can figure out how the pattern was generated—and if it can be, there's a chance they'll use it and repeat it themselves, and so forth.

David Peterson
LCS President
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www.conlang.org