Language Origins: Perspectives on Evolution

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This book addresses central questions in the evolution of language: where it came from; how and why it evolved; how it came to be culturally transmitted; and how languages diversified. It does so from the perspective of the latest work in linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science, and deploys the latest methods and theories to probe into the origins and subsequent development of the only species that has languages.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Language Origins offers a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach to the problem of language evolution.... Language Origins will be especially useful to readers who have already considerable expertise in one field but want to look beyond the boundaries of their own work."—Christina Behme, Philosophical Psychology
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Maggie Tallerman is Reader in Linguistics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. She has spent her professional life in North East England, having previously taught for 21 years at the University of Durham. Her research interests centre on the origins and evolution of syntax and morphology; modern Brythonic Celtic syntax and morphology; and language typology. She is the author of Understanding Syntax (1998; second edition 2005), and has published widely on the morphosyntax of modern Welsh and Breton, as well as on language evolution. She was review editor for the Journal of Linguistics from 1994 to 2005.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
PART I Evolution of Speech and Speech Sounds: How did spoken language emerge?
Introduction to Part I: How did links between perception and production emerge for spoken language?, Michael Studdert-Kennedy
2. The Mirror System Hypothesis: How did protolanguage evolve?, Michael Arbib
3. How Did Language go Discrete?, Michael Studdert-Kennedy
4. From Holistic to Discrete Speech Sounds: The blind snowflake maker hypothesis, Pierre-Yves Oudeyer
5. Infant-Directed Speech and Evolution of Language, Bart de Boer
PART II Evolution of Grammar: How did syntax and morphology emerge?
Introduction to Part II: Protolanguage and the Development of Complexity, Maggie Tallerman
6. Initial Syntax and Modern Syntax: Did the clause evolve from the syllable?, Maggie Tallerman
7. The Potential Role of Production in the Evolution of Syntax, Dana McDaniel
8. The Evolutionary Origin of Morphology, Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy
9. The Evolution of Grammatical Structures and 'Functional Need' Explanations, Bernard Comrie and Tania Kuteva
10. Deception and Mate Selection: Some implications for relevance and the evolution of language, Bradley Franks and Kate Rigby
PART III Analogous and Homologous Traits: What can we learn from other species?
Introduction to Part III: The Broadening Scope of Animal Communication Research, Alison Wray
11. An Avian Perspective on Language Evolution: Implications of simultaneous development of vocal and physical object combinations by a Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus), Irene Maxine Pepperberg
12. Linguistic Prerequisites in the Primate Lineage, Klaus Zuberbühler
PART IV Learnability and Diversity: How did languages emerge and diverge?
Introduction to Part IV: Computer Modelling Widens the Focus of Language Study, James Hurford
13. Cultural Selection for Learnability: Three principles underlying the view that language adapts to be learnable, Henry Brighton, Simon Kirby, and Kenny Smith
14. Coevolution of the Language Faculty and Language(s) With Decorrelated Encodings, Ted Briscoe
15. Acquisition and Evolution of Quasi-regular Languages: Two puzzles for the price of one, Matthew Roberts, Luca Onnis, and Nick Chater
16. Evolution of Language Diversity: Why fitness counts, Zach Solan, Eytan Ruppin, David Horn, and Shimon Edelman
17. Mutual Exclusivity: Communicative success despite conceptual divergence, Andrew D. M. Smith

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