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. The chapters are written from the perspective of the latest work in linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science, and reflect the idea that various cognitive, physical, neurological, social, and cultural prerequisites led to the development of full human language. Some of these evolutionary changes were preadaptations for language, while others were adaptive changes allowing the development of particular linguistic characteristics." The authors consider a broad spectrum of ideas about the conditions that led to the evolution of proto-language and full language. The book will interest a wide range of linguistics, cognitive scientists, biologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and experts in artificial intelligence, as well as all those fascinated by the issues, puzzles, and problems raised by the evolution of language. The book will interest a wide range of linguists, cognitive scientists, biologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and experts in artificial intelligence, as well as all those fascinated by the issues, puzzles and problems raised by the evolution of language.
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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 : language origins and evolutionary processes 1
Pt. 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? 12
2 The mirror system hypothesis : how did protolanguage evolve? 21
3 How did language go discrete? 48
4 From holistic to discrete speech sounds : the blind snowflake-maker hypothesis 68
5 Infant-directed speech and evolution of language 100
Pt. II Evolution of grammar : how did syntax and morphology emerge?
Introduction to part II : protolanguage and the development of complexity 124
6 Initial syntax and modern syntax : did the clause evolve from the syllable? 133
7 The potential role of production in the evolution of syntax 153
8 The evolutionary origin of morphology 166
9 The evolution of grammatical structures and 'functional need' explanations 185
10 Deception and mate selection : some implications for relevance and the evolution of language 208
Pt. III Analogous and homologous traits : what can we learn from other species?
Introduction to part III : the broadening scope of animal communication research 232
11 An avian perspective on language evolution : implications of simultaneous development of vocal and physical object combinations by a grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus) 239
12 Linguistic prerequisites in the primate lineage 262
Pt. IV Learnability and diversity : how did languages emerge and diverge?
Introduction to part IV : computer modelling widens the focus of language study 284
13 Cultural selection for learnability : three principles underlying the view that language adapts to be learnable 291
14 Co-evolution of the language faculty and language(s) with decorrelated encodings 310
15 Acquisition and evolution of quasi-regular languages : two puzzles for the price of one 334
16 Evolution of language diversity : why fitness counts 357
17 Mutual exclusivity : communicative success despite conceptual divergence 372
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