As Niyogi & Berwick (2009) point out, there is a tendency in modelling of Linguistic Evolution to assume chains of single learners inheriting single grammars from single teachers. This is, of course, not realistic – we learn language from many people and people can speak more than one language. However, Niyogi & Berwick suggest deeper objections.
If we accept that language is not only a conveyer of cultural information, but it is itself a socially learned and culturally transmitted system, then an individual’s linguistic knowledge is the result of observing the linguistic behaviour of others. This well attested process of language acquisition is often termed Iterated Learning, and it opens up a new avenue to investigate the design features of language: that cultural, as opposed to biological, evolution is fundamental in understanding these features.