9780521785716

The Seeds of Speech: Language Origin and Evolution

by
  • ISBN13:

    9780521785716

  • ISBN10:

    0521785715

  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2000-05-08
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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Summary

Human language is a weird communication system: it has more in common with birdsong than with the calls of other primates. Jean Aitchison explores the origins of human language and how it has evolved. She likens the search to a vast prehistoric jigsaw puzzle, in which numerous fragments of evidence must be assembled. Such evidence is pieced together from a mixture of linguistic and nonlinguistic sources such as evolution theory, archaeology, psychology, and anthropology. This is an accessible and wide-ranging introduction to the origins and evolution of human language.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Canto edition vii
Preface xi
Part 1 Puzzles
A natural Curiosity: How did language begin?
3(13)
A peculiar habit: What is language for?
16(10)
The bother at Babel: Why do languages differ so much?
26(12)
Distinct duties: Is language an independent skill?
38(11)
Part 2 Origin
The family tree: The evolutionary background
49(16)
A devious mind: The basic requirements
65(12)
Broken air: Inherited ingredients
77(16)
Small beginnings: First steps
93(14)
Part 3 Evolution
The second word: The emergence of rules
107(16)
The tower of speech: Expansion
123(12)
Time travelling: Extra attachments
135(13)
Rebuilding on the high sea: Keeping going
148(13)
Part 4 Diffusion
The widening circle: Moving outwards
161(14)
The hidden core: The hunt for universals
175(12)
The real magician: Ruling the rules
187(14)
Unweaving the rainbow: Separating the Strands
201(11)
The endless stair: Post and future
212(10)
Symbols used in the text 222(1)
Notes and suggestions for further reading 223(22)
References 245(24)
Index 269

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