The Talking Ape

How Language Evolved

Author: Robbins Burling

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191509183

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 304

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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.

Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language

Author: Robin Dunbar

Publisher: Harvard University Press

ISBN: 9780674363366

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 230

View: 1993

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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 Evolution

Author: Morten H. Christiansen,Simon Kirby

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191581666

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 414

View: 3211

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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.

The Evolution of Language

Author: W. Tecumseh Fitch

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 113948706X

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: N.A

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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.

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: 7251

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"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.

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: 1137312734

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 212

View: 3042

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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.

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: 8420

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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

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: 1639

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"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.

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: 9333

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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.

The First Word

The Search for the Origins of Language

Author: Christine Kenneally

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1101202394

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 368

View: 9131

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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.

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: 8743

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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.

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: 1744

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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 and Species

Author: Derek Bickerton

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

ISBN: 9780226046112

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 305

View: 7893

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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

Cognition and Communication in the Evolution of Language

Author: Anne Reboul

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0198747314

Category:

Page: 320

View: 8112

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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.

Language Complexity as an Evolving Variable

Author: Geoffrey Sampson,David Gil,Peter Trudgill

Publisher: OUP Oxford

ISBN: 0191567663

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 328

View: 355

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This book presents a challenge to the widely-held assumption that human languages are both similar and constant in their degree of complexity. For a hundred years or more the universal equality of languages has been a tenet of faith among most anthropologists and linguists. It has been frequently advanced as a corrective to the idea that some languages are at a later stage of evolution than others. It also appears to be an inevitable outcome of one of the central axioms of generative linguistic theory: that the mental architecture of language is fixed and is thus identical in all languages and that whereas genes evolve languages do not. Language Complexity as an Evolving Variable reopens the debate. Geoffrey Sampson's introductory chapter re-examines and clarifies the notion and theoretical importance of complexity in language, linguistics, cognitive science, and evolution. Eighteen distinguished scholars from all over the world then look at evidence gleaned from their own research in order to reconsider whether languages do or do not exhibit the same degrees and kinds of complexity. They examine data from a wide range of times and places. They consider the links between linguistic structure and social complexity and relate their findings to the causes and processes of language change. Their arguments are frequently controversial and provocative; their conclusions add up to an important challenge to conventional ideas about the nature of language. The authors write readably and accessibly with no recourse to unnecessary jargon. This fascinating book will appeal to all those interested in the interrelations between human nature, culture, and language.

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: 4284

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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.

The Domestication of Language

Cultural Evolution and the Uniqueness of the Human Animal

Author: Daniel Cloud

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 023116792X

Category: Language Arts & Disciplines

Page: 288

View: 9239

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Language did not evolve only in the distant past. Our shared understanding of the meanings of words is ever-changing, and we make conscious, rational decisions about which words to use and what to mean by them every day. Applying DarwinÕs theory of Òunconscious artificial selectionÓ to the evolution of linguistic conventions, Daniel Cloud suggests a new, evolutionary explanation for the rich, complex, and continually reinvented meanings of our words. The choice of which words to use and in which sense to use them is both a Òselection eventÓ and an intentional decision, making DarwinÕs account of artificial selection a particularly compelling model of the evolution of words. After drawing an analogy between the theory of domestication offered by Darwin and the evolution of human languages and cultures, Cloud applies his analytical framework to the question of what makes humans unique, and how they became that way. He incorporates insights from David LewisÕs Convention, Brian SkyrmsÕs Signals, and Kim SterelnyÕs Evolved Apprentice, all while emphasizing the role of deliberate human choice in the crafting of language over time. His clever and intuitive model casts humansÕ cultural and linguistic evolution as an integrated, dynamic process, with results that reach into all corners of our private lives and public character.

Eve Spoke

Human Language and Human Evolution

Author: Philip Lieberman

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

ISBN: 9780393040890

Category: Social Science

Page: 192

View: 3196

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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.

Developments in Primate Gesture Research

Author: Simone Pika,Katja Liebal

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing

ISBN: 9027274819

Category: Science

Page: 256

View: 9642

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The book is a themed, mutually referenced collection of articles from a very high-powered set of authors based on the workshop on “Current developments in non-human primate gesture research”, which was held in July 2010 at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. The motivation for this book – following on from the motivation for the workshop series – was to present the state of the art in non-human primate gesture research with a special emphasis on its history, interdisciplinary perspectives, developments and future directions. This book provides, for the first time in a single volume, the most recent work on comparative gestural signaling by many of the major scholars in the field, such as W.D. Hopkins, D. Leavens, T. Racine, J. van Hooff, and S. Wilcox (in alphabetical order).

Origins of Human Communication

Author: Michael Tomasello

Publisher: MIT Press

ISBN: 0262261200

Category: Social Science

Page: 408

View: 2845

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Human communication is grounded in fundamentally cooperative, even shared, intentions. In this original and provocative account of the evolutionary origins of human communication, Michael Tomasello connects the fundamentally cooperative structure of human communication (initially discovered by Paul Grice) to the especially cooperative structure of human (as opposed to other primate) social interaction. Tomasello argues that human cooperative communication rests on a psychological infrastructure of shared intentionality (joint attention, common ground), evolved originally for collaboration and culture more generally. The basic motives of the infrastructure are helping and sharing: humans communicate to request help, inform others of things helpfully, and share attitudes as a way of bonding within the cultural group. These cooperative motives each created different functional pressures for conventionalizing grammatical constructions. Requesting help in the immediate you-and-me and here-and-now, for example, required very little grammar, but informing and sharing required increasingly complex grammatical devices. Drawing on empirical research into gestural and vocal communication by great apes and human infants (much of it conducted by his own research team), Tomasello argues further that humans' cooperative communication emerged first in the natural gestures of pointing and pantomiming. Conventional communication, first gestural and then vocal, evolved only after humans already possessed these natural gestures and their shared intentionality infrastructure along with skills of cultural learning for creating and passing along jointly understood communicative conventions. Challenging the Chomskian view that linguistic knowledge is innate, Tomasello proposes instead that the most fundamental aspects of uniquely human communication are biological adaptations for cooperative social interaction in general and that the purely linguistic dimensions of human communication are cultural conventions and constructions created by and passed along within particular cultural groups.