About this book
Bound to become a classic and to stimulate debate and research, this book looks at species in their natural environments as a way to begin to understand what the real units of analysis of communicating systems are, using arguments about design and function to illuminate both the origin and subsequent evolution of each system. It lights the way for a research programme that seriously addresses the problem of how communication systems, including language, have been designed over the course of evolution.
`Few writers have so far even attempted a general overview of animal communication, so Marc Hauser's book is timely if not overdue...For anyone concerned with the comparative study of communication, this book is likely to remain an indispensable source for some time to come' - Derek Bicerton, Nature
Part 1 Synopsis of the argument: some background information - communication and information, the comparative method - which species to compare and what to conclude?. Part 2 The evolution of communication - historical overview - the design of natural communication systems; language evolution - linguists take a look - uniqueness, Noam Chomsky, Derek Bickerton, Philip Lieberman, Charles Hockett, Steven Pinker; language evolution - biologists take a look - general comments, Peter Marler, W. John Smith; synthesis. Part 3 Conceptual issues in the study of communication: signals designed for a complex environment - the ecology of signal transmission, the ecology of signal detection, adaptation and signal design; problems of similarity and classification - the concept of similarity, similarity and classification, units of analysis and their classification in communication; potential fruits of Tinbergen's research design. Part 4 Biological design and communication: mating signals - frogs and birds - anuran advertisement calls, avian song; survival signals - bats - bat echolocation - the problem; social signals - nonhuman and human primates - nonhuman primate vocalisations - general, human language, facial expression and perception in primates. Part 5 Genetic design and communication: mating signals - birds - avian song; survival signals - squirrels and primates - ground squirrel alarms, vervet monkey alarm calls; social signals - primates - nonhuman primate vocalisations, human spoken language, human sign language, facial and gestural expressions in primates. Part 6 Design and communication: mating signals - frogs, birds, and primates - anuran advertisement calls,, avian advertisement signals, primate copulation calls and sexual swellings; survival signals - insects, birds, squirrels, and primates - alarm signals, warning colours, food-associated signals; social signals - birds and primates - dominance signals and cues. (Part contents).
Marc D. Hauser is Professor of Psychology and Codirector of the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Program at Harvard University.