The Evolution of Language

The Evolution of Language

Book - 2010
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Cambridge Univ Pr
Brings together the most important insights from the vast amount of literature on the origin of language.
Language, more than anything else, is what makes us human. It appears that no communication system of equivalent power exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Any normal human child will learn a language based on rather sparse data in the surrounding world, while even the brightest chimpanzee, exposed to the same environment, will not. Why not? How, and why, did language evolve in our species and not in others? Since Darwin's theory of evolution, questions about the origin of language have generated a rapidly-growing scientific literature, stretched across a number of disciplines, much of it directed at specialist audiences. The diversity of perspectives - from linguistics, anthropology, speech science, genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology - can be bewildering. Tecumseh Fitch cuts through this vast literature, bringing together its most important insights to explore one of the biggest unsolved puzzles of human history.

Blackwell Publishing
Language, more than anything else, is what makes us human. It happens that no communication system of equivalent power exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Any normal human child will learn a language based on rather sparse data in the surrounding world, while even the brightest chimpanzee, exposed to the same environment, will not. Why not? How, and why, did language evolve in our species and not in others?

Since Darwin's theory of evolution, questions about the origin of language have generated a rapidly growing scientific literature, stretched across a number of disciplines, much of it directed at specialist audiences. The diversity of perspectives-from linguistics, anthropology, speech science, genetics, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology-can be bewildering. Covering diverse and fascinating topics, from Kaspar Hauser to Clever Hans, Tecumseh Fitch provides a clear and comprehensible guide to this vast literature, bringing together its most important insights to explore one of the biggest unsolved puzzles of human history.

"The evolution of language has been described as the hardest problem in science fraught with conflict, entrenched views, and misunderstandings between the multifarious disciplines involved. Fitch guides us through this tangled and often treacherous domain with clarity, equanimity, and encyclopedic reach. No other book so completely, fairly, and eloquently presents contemporary notions as to how language evolved."-Michael Corballis, University of Auckland

"Reconstructing the evolution of language is a daunting task but Tecumseh Fitch brings it off with style. An impressive synthesis."-Robert Seyfarth, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

"Tecumseh Fitch's book reads like a novel, telling the story of the long and complex search for a theory of language evolution very clearly and engagingly...comprehensive, analytic, and fair."-Merlin Donald, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

Publisher: Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c2010
ISBN: 9780521859936
052185993X
9780521677363
052167736X
Characteristics: xii, 610 p. : ill. ; 25 cm

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