The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Languageby Christine Kenneally
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/i>/b>
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.
The New York Times
This book grows out of Kenneally's conviction that "investigating the evolution of language is a good and worthwhile pursuit"-a stance that most in the field of linguistics disparaged until about 20 years ago. The result is a book that is as much about evolutionary biology as it is about linguistics. We read about work with chimpanzees, bonobos, parrots and even robots that are being programmed to develop language evolutionarily. Kenneally, who has written about language, science and culture for the New Yorkerand Discoveramong others, has a breezily journalistic style that is occasionally witty but more often pragmatic, as she tries to distill academic and scientific discourses into terms the casual reader will understand. She introduces the major players in the field of linguistics and behavioral studies-Noam Chomsky, Steven Pinker, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Philip Lieberman-as well as countless other anthropologists, biologists and linguists. Kenneally's insistence upon seeing human capacity for speech on an evolutionary continuum of communication that includes all other animal species provides a respite from ideological declamations about human supremacy, but the book will appeal mainly to those who are drawn to the nuts and bolts of scientific inquiry into language. (July 23)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Linguist and journalist Kenneally synthesizes linguistic scholarship regarding the evolution of language, namely, scholarship's development and current conclusions. She shares intriguing accounts of research not just about humans but about primates, dolphins, and parrots as well. She also discusses genes specifically identified as impacting language and the computer modeling of language development. Kenneally organizes the various research projects as they relate to a specific scholar's work (e.g., that of primatologist Sue Savage-Rumbaugh) or aspect of language (e.g., sound or gesture), or as they illumine the earliest linguistic evolution. Using her "insider" status as a linguistics scholar, Kenneally augments the narrative through interviews with other scholars, representing a wide variety of views she supports with endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. Her work stands out among numerous recent publications for its presentation of so many aspects of linguistic research. Its systematic explanation of large amounts of scholarship throughout makes it most appropriate for students and other scholars. Recommended for academic libraries.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.46(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.32(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
Meet the Author
Christine Kenneally is Australian and received her Ph.D. in linguistics at Cambridge. She has written about language, science, and culture for publications such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Scientific American, Discover, and Slate.
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