Why We Talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language

Why We Talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language

by Jean-Louis Dessalles, James Grieve
Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press, USA

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Why We Talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language

Jean-Louis Dessalles explores the co-evolutionary paths of biology, culture, and the great human edifice of language, linking the evolution of the language to the general evolutionary history of humankind. He provides searchingly original answers to such fundamental paradoxes as to whether we acquired our greatest gift in order to talk or so as to be able to think, and as to why human beings should, as experience constantly confirms, contribute information for the well-being of others at their own expense and for no apparent gain: which if this is one of language's main functions appears to make its possession, in Darwinian terms, a disadvantage. Dr. Dessalles looks for solutions in the early history of human species and considers the degree to which language evolved as a means of choosing profitable coalition partners and maximizing individuals success within a competitive social environment. This challenging and original account will appeal to all those interested in the origins of language and the evolution of human behavior.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199276233
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 03/01/2007
Series: Studies in the Evolution of Language Series , #5
Pages: 395
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

Part I Language in the Human History
1. Animal and Human Communication
2. Culture, Languages, and Language
3. The Biological Roots of Language
4. What the Origins of Language Were Not
5. Language as an Evolutionary Curiosity
6. The Local Optimality of Language
Part II The Anatomy of Speech
7. Putting Sounds Together
8. Protolanguage
9. The Mechanics of Syntax
10. Syntax and Meaning
11. The Structure of Meanings
12. The Emergence of Meaning
Part III The Ethology of Language
13. Conversation Behaviour
14. Language as Information
15. The Birth of Argumentation
16. An Evolutionary Paradox
17. The Political Origins of Language
18. Epilogue

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