17 contributions from leading figures across a range of disciplines. Current controversies are laid out in this clear and readable guide.
1. Language Evolution: The Hardest Problem in Science?; 2. Language as an Adaptation to the Cognitive Niche; 3. The Language Mosaic and its Evolution; 4. What can the Field of Linguistics Tell Us About the Origins of Language?; 5. Symbol and Structure: A Comprehensive Framework for Language Evolution; 6. On the Different Origins of Symbols and Grammar; 7. Universal Grammar and Semiotic Constraints; 8. The Archaeological Evidence of Language Origins: States of the Art; 9. What are the Uniquely Human Components of the Language Faculty?; 10. The Evolving Mirror System: A Neural Basis for Language Readiness; 11. From Hand to Mouth: the Gestural Origins of Language; 12. The Origin and Subsequent Evolution of Language; 13. Launching Language: the Gestural Origin of Discrete Infinity; 14. Motor Control, Speech, and the Evolution of Human Language; 15. From Language Learning to Language Evolution; 16. Grammatical Assimilation; 17. Language, Learning, and Evolution
Some time since we and the chimpanzees went our separate evolutionary ways, probably towards the very end of that 6 million year period, an innovation occurred whose only precedent was arguably the DNA code itself. Language arose in our ancestors, and there had been nothing like it. Of course other species communicate, many of them vocally, but none of this comes close to the open-ended, generative capacity, the huge vocabulary, the nuanced subtlety, the permanent recordability of language. As an outsider, it is with real fascination that I have read this compendium. One of the merits of any book is its capacity to stimulate the reader to think beyond its confines. This, and other merits are possessed by Language Evolution in abundance. Richard Dawkins This book offers the current states of the art on the subject of language evolution, covering just about every scientific discipline that has a stake in answering the questions it raises. Pragmatics Language Evolution is a brave attempt at a state-of-the-art survey of language origin research at the beginning of the millennium. Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy, Science The evolutionary origins of language should intrigue anyone interested in the relationship of humans to other species. For them, Language Evolution will provide a useful starting point. Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy, Science In the beginning there was no language. Now there is. Language Evolution describes the passage as a wonderful voyage of discovery. Nurturing Potential