• Language Arts & Disciplines

The Talking Ape

How Language Evolved
Author: Robbins Burling
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191509183
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 304
View: 5742
In this mind-opening book, Robbins Burling presents the most convincing - and the most readable - account of the origins of language yet published. He sheds new light on how language affects the way we think, behave, and relate to each other, and he gives us a deeper understanding of the nature of language itself. The author traces language back to its earliest origins among our distant ape-like forbears several million years ago. He offers a new account of the route by which we acquired our defining characteristic and explores the changing nature of language as it developed through the course of our evolution. He considers what the earliest forms of communication are likely to have been, how they worked, and why they were deployed. He examines the qualities of mind and brain needed to support the operations of language and the advantages they offered for survival and reproduction. He investigates the beginnings and prehistories of vocabulary and grammar; and connects work in fields extending from linguistics, sign languages, and psychology to palaeontology, evolutionary biology, and archaeology. And he does all this in a style that is crystal-clear, constantly enlivened by wit and humour.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language


Author: Robin Dunbar
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674363366
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 230
View: 7858
What a big brain we have for all the small talk we make. It's an evolutionary riddle that at long last makes sense in this intriguing book about what gossip has done for our talkative species. Psychologist Robin Dunbar looks at gossip as an instrument of social order and cohesion--much like the endless grooming with which our primate cousins tend to their social relationships. Apes and monkeys, humanity's closest kin, differ from other animals in the intensity of these relationships. All their grooming is not so much about hygiene as it is about cementing bonds, making friends, and influencing fellow primates. But for early humans, grooming as a way to social success posed a problem: given their large social groups of 150 or so, our earliest ancestors would have had to spend almost half their time grooming one another--an impossible burden. What Dunbar suggests--and his research, whether in the realm of primatology or in that of gossip, confirms--is that humans developed language to serve the same purpose, but far more efficiently. It seems there is nothing idle about chatter, which holds together a diverse, dynamic group--whether of hunter-gatherers, soldiers, or workmates. Anthropologists have long assumed that language developed in relationships among males during activities such as hunting. Dunbar's original and extremely interesting studies suggest otherwise: that language in fact evolved in response to our need to keep up to date with friends and family. We needed conversation to stay in touch, and we still need it in ways that will not be satisfied by teleconferencing, email, or any other communication technology. As Dunbar shows, the impersonal world of cyberspace will not fulfill our primordial need for face-to-face contact. From the nit-picking of chimpanzees to our chats at coffee break, from neuroscience to paleoanthropology, Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language offers a provocative view of what makes us human, what holds us together, and what sets us apart.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

Language Evolution


Author: Morten H. Christiansen,Simon Kirby
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191581666
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 414
View: 5324
What is it that makes us human? This is one of the most challenging and important questions we face. Our species' defining characteristic is language - we appear to be unique in the natural world in having such an incredibly open-ended system for putting thoughts into words. If we are to truly understand ourselves as a species we must understand the origins of this strange and unique ability. To do so, we need to answer some of the most intriguing questions in contemporary scientific research: Where did language come from? How did it evolve? Why are we unique in possessing it? This book, for the first time, brings together the leading thinkers who are trying to unlock the puzzle of language evolution. Here we see the latest ideas and theories from fields as diverse as anthropology, archaeology, artificial life, biology, cognitive science, linguistics, neuroscience, and psychology. In a series of seventeen well-written and accessible chapters we get an unrivalled view of the state of the art in this exciting area. Current controversies are revealed and new perspectives uncovered, in a clear and readable guide to the latest theories. This collection marks a major step forward in our quest to understand the origins and evolution of human language. In doing so it sheds new light on the process of evolution, the workings of the brain, the structure of language, and - most importantly - what it means to be human. Language Evolution is essential reading for researchers and students working in the areas covered, and has been used as a textbook for courses in the field. It will also attract the general reader who wants to know more about this fascinating subject.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

The Origins of Meaning

Language in the Light of Evolution
Author: James R. Hurford
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199207852
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 388
View: 1167
"In this engagingly written and broadly interdisciplinary book, Jim Hurford integrates findings from ethology and neuroscience with concepts from philosophy and linguistics to make an explicit and convincing case that animals have rich concepts, and thus that meaning predated language. This is a work of broad scope and significance." W. Tecumesh Fitch, Lecturer in Psychology, University of St. Andrews,from the bookjacket.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

The Evolution of Language


Author: W. Tecumseh Fitch
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 113948706X
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: N.A
View: 2325
Language, more than anything else, is what makes us human. It appears that no communication system of equivalent power exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Any normal human child will learn a language based on rather sparse data in the surrounding world, while even the brightest chimpanzee, exposed to the same environment, will not. Why not? How, and why, did language evolve in our species and not in others? Since Darwin's theory of evolution, questions about the origin of language have generated a rapidly-growing scientific literature, stretched across a number of disciplines, much of it directed at specialist audiences. The diversity of perspectives - from linguistics, anthropology, speech science, genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology - can be bewildering. Tecumseh Fitch cuts through this vast literature, bringing together its most important insights to explore one of the biggest unsolved puzzles of human history.

    • Psychology

Speaking Our Minds

Why human communication is different, and how language evolved to make it special
Author: Thom Scott-Phillips
Publisher: Macmillan International Higher Education
ISBN: 1137315636
Category: Psychology
Page: 212
View: 1949
Language is an essential part of what makes us human. Where did it come from? How did it develop into the complex system we know today? And what can an evolutionary perspective tell us about the nature of language and communication? Drawing on a range of disciplines including cognitive science, linguistics, anthropology and evolutionary biology, Speaking Our Minds explains how language evolved and why we are the only species to communicate in this way. Written by a rising star in the field, this groundbreaking book is required reading for anyone interested in understanding the origins and evolution of human communication and language.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

Why Only Us

Language and Evolution
Author: Robert C. Berwick,Noam Chomsky
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262034247
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 224
View: 7650
Berwick and Chomsky draw on recent developments in linguistic theory to offer an evolutionary account of language and humans' remarkable, species-specific ability to acquire it.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

The First Word

The Search for the Origins of Language
Author: Christine Kenneally
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1101202394
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 368
View: 9778
An accessible exploration of a burgeoning new field: the incredible evolution of language The first popular book to recount the exciting, very recent developments in tracing the origins of language, The First Word is at the forefront of a controversial, compelling new field. Acclaimed science writer Christine Kenneally explains how a relatively small group of scientists that include Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker assembled the astounding narrative of how the fundamental process of evolution produced a linguistic ape?in other words, us. Infused with the wonder of discovery, this vital and engrossing book offers us all a better understanding of the story of humankind.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

Adam's Tongue

How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans
Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780809022816
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 286
View: 4782
The renowned linguist author of Bastard Tongues presents a revisionist assessment of evolution that credits language as a key component in what separates humans from animals, in an account that explains how "power scavenging" forced early humans to break from previous communication systems and acquire new brain structures.

    • Science

The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain


Author: Terrence W. Deacon
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 0393343022
Category: Science
Page: 528
View: 1622
"A work of enormous breadth, likely to pleasantly surprise both general readers and experts."—New York Times Book Review This revolutionary book provides fresh answers to long-standing questions of human origins and consciousness. Drawing on his breakthrough research in comparative neuroscience, Terrence Deacon offers a wealth of insights into the significance of symbolic thinking: from the co-evolutionary exchange between language and brains over two million years of hominid evolution to the ethical repercussions that followed man's newfound access to other people's thoughts and emotions. Informing these insights is a new understanding of how Darwinian processes underlie the brain's development and function as well as its evolution. In contrast to much contemporary neuroscience that treats the brain as no more or less than a computer, Deacon provides a new clarity of vision into the mechanism of mind. It injects a renewed sense of adventure into the experience of being human.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

The Origins of Meaning

Language in the Light of Evolution
Author: James R. Hurford
Publisher: OUP Oxford
ISBN: 0191607231
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 406
View: 8925
In this, the first of two ground-breaking volumes on the nature of language in the light of the way it evolved, James Hurford looks at how the world first came to have a meaning in the minds of animals and how in humans this meaning eventually came to be expressed as language. He reviews a mass of evidence to show how close some animals, especially primates and more especially apes, are to the brink of human language. Apes may not talk to us but they construct rich cognitive representations of the world around them, and here, he shows, are the evolutionary seeds of abstract thought - the means of referring to objects, the memory of events, even elements of the propositional thinking philosophers have hitherto reserved for humans. What then, he asks, is the evolutionary path between the non-speaking minds of apes and our own speaking minds? Why don't apes communicate the richness of their thoughts to each other? Why do humans alone have a unique disposition to reveal their thoughts in complex detail? Professor Hurford searches a wide range of evidence for the answers to these central questions, including degrees of trust, the role of hormones, the ability to read minds, and the willingness to cooperate. Expressing himself congenially in consistently colloquial language the author builds up a vivid picture of how mind, language, and meaning evolved over millions of years. His book is a landmark contribution to the understanding of linguistic and thinking processes, and the fullest account yet published of the evolution of language and communication. "A wonderful read - lucid, informative, and entertaining, while at the same time never talking down to the reader by sacrificing argumentation for the sake of 'simplicity'. Likely to be heralded as the major publication dealing with language evolution to date. Frederick J. Newmeyer, University of Washington

    • Science

Harnessed

How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man
Author: Mark Changizi
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
ISBN: 1935618830
Category: Science
Page: 216
View: 9689
The scientific consensus is that our ability to understand human speech has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. After all, there are whole portions of the brain devoted to human speech. We learn to understand speech too quickly and with almost no training and can seamlessly absorb enormous amounts of information simply by hearing it. Surely we evolved this capability over thousands of generations. Or did we? Portions of the human brain are also devoted to reading. Children learn to read at a very young age and can seamlessly absorb information even more quickly through reading than through hearing. We know that we didn’t evolve to read because reading is only a few thousand years old. In "Harnessed," cognitive scientist Mark Changizi demonstrates that human speech has been very specifically “designed” to harness the sounds of nature, sounds we’ve evolved over millions of years to readily understand. Long before humans evolved, mammals have learned to interpret the sounds of nature to understand both threats and opportunities. Our speech—regardless of language—is very clearly based on the sounds of nature. Even more fascinating, Changizi shows that music itself is based on natural sounds. Music—seemingly one of the most human of inventions—is literally built on sounds and patterns of sound that have existed since the beginning of time.

    • Science

How Language Began: The Story of Humanity's Greatest Invention


Author: Daniel L. Everett
Publisher: Liveright Publishing
ISBN: 087140477X
Category: Science
Page: 384
View: 9109
How Language Began revolutionizes our understanding of the one tool that has allowed us to become the "lords of the planet." Mankind has a distinct advantage over other terrestrial species: we talk to one another. But how did we acquire the most advanced form of communication on Earth? Daniel L. Everett, a “bombshell” linguist and “instant folk hero” (Tom Wolfe, Harper’s), provides in this sweeping history a comprehensive examination of the evolutionary story of language, from the earliest speaking attempts by hominids to the more than seven thousand languages that exist today. Although fossil hunters and linguists have brought us closer to unearthing the true origins of language, Daniel Everett’s discoveries have upended the contemporary linguistic world, reverberating far beyond academic circles. While conducting field research in the Amazonian rainforest, Everett came across an age-old language nestled amongst a tribe of hunter-gatherers. Challenging long-standing principles in the field, Everett now builds on the theory that language was not intrinsic to our species. In order to truly understand its origins, a more interdisciplinary approach is needed—one that accounts as much for our propensity for culture as it does our biological makeup. Language began, Everett theorizes, with Homo Erectus, who catalyzed words through culturally invented symbols. Early humans, as their brains grew larger, incorporated gestures and voice intonations to communicate, all of which built on each other for 60,000 generations. Tracing crucial shifts and developments across the ages, Everett breaks down every component of speech, from harnessing control of more than a hundred respiratory muscles in the larynx and diaphragm, to mastering the use of the tongue. Moving on from biology to execution, Everett explores why elements such as grammar and storytelling are not nearly as critical to language as one might suspect. In the book’s final section, Cultural Evolution of Language, Everett takes the ever-debated “language gap” to task, delving into the chasm that separates “us” from “the animals.” He approaches the subject from various disciplines, including anthropology, neuroscience, and archaeology, to reveal that it was social complexity, as well as cultural, physiological, and neurological superiority, that allowed humans—with our clawless hands, breakable bones, and soft skin—to become the apex predator. How Language Began ultimately explains what we know, what we’d like to know, and what we likely never will know about how humans went from mere communication to language. Based on nearly forty years of fieldwork, Everett debunks long-held theories by some of history’s greatest thinkers, from Plato to Chomsky. The result is an invaluable study of what makes us human.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

Origins of Language

A Slim Guide
Author: James Raymond Hurford,James R. Hurford
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0198701888
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 192
View: 4391
This book offers an accessible overview of what is known about the evolution of the human capacity for language and what sets human language apart from the simple communication systems used by non-human animals. It draws on a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, neuroscience, genetics, and animal behaviour.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

The Social Origins of Language


Author: Daniel Dor,Chris Knight,Jerome Lewis
Publisher: Oxford University Press (UK)
ISBN: 019966532X
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 435
View: 7295
This book presents a new perspective on the origins of language, and highlights the key role of social and cultural dynamics in driving language evolution. It considers, among other questions, the role of gesture in communication, mimesis, play, dance, and song in extant hunter-gatherer communities, and the time-frame for language evolution.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

Language and Species


Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226046112
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 305
View: 9709
Language and Species presents the most detailed and well-documented scenario to date of the origins of language. Drawing on "living linguistic fossils" such as "ape talk," the "two-word" stage of small children, and pidgin languages, and on recent discoveries in paleoanthropology, Bickerton shows how a primitive "protolanguage" could have offered Homo erectus a novel ecological niche. He goes on to demonstrate how this protolanguage could have developed into the languages we speak today. "You are drawn into [Bickerton's] appreciation of the dominant role language plays not only in what we say, but in what we think and, therefore, what we are."—Robert Wright, New York Times Book Review "The evolution of language is a fascinating topic, and Bickerton's Language and Species is the best introduction we have."—John C. Marshall, Nature

    • Medical

Origins of the Modern Mind

Three Stages in the Evolution of Culture and Cognition
Author: Merlin Donald
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674644847
Category: Medical
Page: 413
View: 8750
This bold and brilliant book asks the ultimate question of life sciences: How did the human mind acquire its incomparable power? Origins of the Modern Mind traces the evolution of human culture and cognition from primitive apes to the era of artificial intelligence, and presents an original theory of how the human mind evolved from its presymbolic form. Illustrated with line drawings.

    • Social Science

Eve Spoke

Human Language and Human Evolution
Author: Philip Lieberman
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
ISBN: 9780393040890
Category: Social Science
Page: 192
View: 3035
The human imagination never ceases to be captivated by the quest for its own roots. Who were our ancestors? In the evolutionary clash of brains and brawn, what was it that prevailed and made us, Homo sapiens, uniquely human? Today scientists cite language as the distinctively human feature. But what is language—a sign, a grunt? a sound with collective symbolic meaning? This remarkable book seeks to set the record straight with a critical refinement of the language theory, providing us for the first time with a scientific explanation of how Eve came to speak at all. Wrestling with the age-old question of why such a large gulf exists between humans and other animals, Philip Lieberman mines both the fossil record and modern neuroscientific techniques to chart the development of the anatomy and brain mechanisms necessary for human language as we know it. Eschewing any notion of a language gene or instinct, he pursues instead an evolutionary path in which environment acts on a biological capacity to reveal the interconnectedness of systems that make us most human: precise motor skills, speech, language, and complex thought. Eve Spoke challenges the dominant scientific theories of language's origins and forges a new understanding of the role of language in our evolution.

    • Language Arts & Disciplines

The Origin of Speech


Author: Peter F. MacNeilage
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199581584
Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
Page: 389
View: 6586
This book explores the origin and evolution of speech. The human speech system is in a league of its own in the animal kingdom and its possession dwarfs most other evolutionary achievements. During every second of speech we unconsciously use about 225 distinct muscle actions. To investigate the evolutionary origins of this prodigious ability, Peter MacNeilage draws on work in linguistics, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and animal behavior. He puts forward a neo-Darwinian account of speech as a process of descent in which ancestral vocal capabilities became modified in response to natural selection pressures for more efficient communication. His proposals include the crucial observation that present-day infants learning to produce speech reveal constraints that were acting on our ancestors as they invented new words long ago. This important and original investigation integrates the latest research on modern speech capabilities, their acquisition, and their neurobiology, including the issues surrounding the cerebral hemispheric specialization for speech. Written in a clear style with minimal recourse to jargon the book will interest a wide range of readers in cognitive, neuro-, and evolutionary science, as well as all those seeking to understand the nature and evolution of speech and human communication.

Cognition and Communication in the Evolution of Language


Author: Anne Reboul
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0198747314
Category:
Page: 320
View: 7522
This book proposes a new two-step approach to the evolution of language, whereby syntax first evolved as an auto-organizational process for the human conceptual apparatus (as a Language of Thought), and this Language of Thought was then externalized for communication, due to social selectionpressures. Anne Reboul first argues that despite the routine use of language in communication, current use is not a failsafe guide to adaptive history. She points out that human cognition is as unique in nature as is language as a communication system, suggesting deep links between human thought andlanguage. If language is seen as a communication system, then the specificities of language, its hierarchical syntax, its creativity, and the ability to use it to talk about absent objects, are a mystery. This book shows that approaching language as a system for thought overcomes these problems, andprovides a detailed account of both steps in the evolution of language: its evolution for thought and its externalization for communication.