Origins of Language: A Slim Guide

Paperback | March 18, 2014

byJames R. Hurford

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Origins of Language: A Slim Guide offers a concise and accessible overview of what is known about the evolution of the human capacity for language. Non-human animals communicate in simple ways: they may be able to form simple concepts, to feel some limited empathy for others, to cooperate tosome extent, and to engage in mind-reading. Human language, however, is characterized by its ability to efficiently express a wide range of subtle and complex meanings. After the first simple beginnings, human language underwent an explosion of complexity, leading to the very complicated systems ofgrammar and pronunciation found in modern languages. Jim Hurford looks at the very varied aspects of this evolution, covering human prehistory; the relation between instinct and learning; biology and culture; trust, altruism, and cooperation; animal thought; human and non-human vocal anatomy; the meanings and forms of the first words; and the growthof complex systems of grammar and pronunciation. Written by an internationally recognized expert in the field, it draws on a number of disciplines besides linguistics, including philosophy, neuroscience, genetics, and animal behaviour, and will appeal to a wide range of readers interested inlanguage origins and evolution.

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Origins of Language: A Slim Guide offers a concise and accessible overview of what is known about the evolution of the human capacity for language. Non-human animals communicate in simple ways: they may be able to form simple concepts, to feel some limited empathy for others, to cooperate tosome extent, and to engage in mind-reading. H...

James R. Hurford is Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh, where he was previously Professor of General Linguistics from 1979 until his retirement in 2009. Over the last 25 years he has pioneered the rebirth of serious scientific interest in the origins and evolution of language. He co-founded with Chris Knight the biennia...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.68 inPublished:March 18, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198701888

ISBN - 13:9780198701880

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Table of Contents

1. The prehistory of a very special ape2. Nature, nurture, and language3. How trusted talk started4. Concepts before language5. We began to speak, and hear differently6. Coining words7. Building powerful grammar engines8. Pronunciation gets complex