The Evolution of Language

The Evolution of Language

by W. Tecumseh Fitch
     
 

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ISBN-10: 052167736X

ISBN-13: 9780521677363

Pub. Date: 04/30/2010

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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

Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521677363
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
04/30/2010
Series:
Approaches to the Evolution of Language Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
622
Product dimensions:
6.80(w) x 9.70(h) x 1.30(d)

Table of Contents

List of figures ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction 1

Section 1 The Lay of the Land

1 Language from a biological perspective 13

2 Evolution: consensus and controversy 35

3 Language 73

4 Animal cognition and communication 143

Section 2 Meet the Ancestors

5 Meet the ancestors 205

6 The LCA: our last common ancestor with chimpanzees 234

7 Hominid paleontology and archaeology 250

Section 3 The Evolution of Speech

8 The evolution of the human vocal tract 297

9 The evolution of vocal control: the neural basis for spoken language 338

10 Models of the evolution of speech and phonology 364

Section 4 Evaluating Phylogenetic Models of Language Evolution

11 Historical overview: Western theories of language origin before Darwin 389

12 Lexical protolanguage 401

13 Signs before speech: gestural protolanguag theories 433

14 Musical protolanguage 466

15 Conclusions and prospects 508

Glossary 513

Appendix: species names 519

References 521

Author index 605

Subject index 607

Species index 611

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