The Prehistory of Language
Rudolf Botha, Chris Knight
OUP Oxford, 23 avr. 2009 - 348 pages
'When, why, and how did language evolve?' 'Why do only humans have language?' This book looks at these and other questions about the origins and evolution of language. It does so via a rich diversity of perspectives, including social, cultural, archaeological, palaeoanthropological, musicological, anatomical, neurobiological, primatological, and linguistic. Among the subjects it considers are: how far sociality is a prerequisite for language; the evolutionary links between languageand music; the relation between natural selection and niche construction; the origins of the lexicon; the role of social play in language development; the use of signs by great apes; the evolution of syntax; the evolutionary biology of language; the insights offered by Chomsky's biolinguisticapproach to mind and language; the emergence of recursive language; the selectional advantages of the human vocal tract; and why women speak better than men.The authors, drawn from all over the world, are prominent linguists, psychologists, cognitive scientists, archaeologists, primatologists, social anthropologists, and specialists in artificial intelligence. As well as explaining what is understood about the evolution of language, they look squarely at the formidable obstacles to knowing more - the absence of direct evidence, for example; the problems of using indirect evidence; the lack of a common conception of language; confusion about theoperation of natural selection and other processes of change; the scope for misunderstanding in a multi-disciplinary field, and many more. Despite these difficulties, the authors in their stylish and readable contributions to this book are able to show just how much has been achieved in this mostfruitful and fascinating area of research in the social, natural, and cognitive sciences.
rewards and challenges of multiperspectival work on the evolution of language and speech
2 Why only humans have language
3 Is sociality a crucial prerequisite for the emergence of language?
resurrecting an old idea
5 Music as a communicative medium
evolutions cradle of language
normative function and structure in play
8 The ontogeny and phylogeny of nonverbal deixis
symbolization and beyond
12 Grammaticalization from a biolinguistic perspective
13 Recursion phonological storage capacity and the evolution of modern speech
14 Why women speak better than men and its significance for evolution
15 Mosaic neurobiology and anatomical plausibility
The Cradle of Language
evidence for a referential gesture in chimpanzees?
how a wordstore evolved
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