The Evolution of Language by W. Tecumseh FitchThe Evolution of Language by W. Tecumseh Fitch

The Evolution of Language

byW. Tecumseh Fitch

Paperback | May 17, 2010

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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.
Title:The Evolution of LanguageFormat:PaperbackDimensions:622 pages, 9.72 × 6.85 × 1.1 inPublished:May 17, 2010Publisher:Cambridge University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:052167736X

ISBN - 13:9780521677363


Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. The Lay of the Land: 1. Language from a biological perspective; 2. Evolution; 3. Language; 4. Animal cognition and communication; Part II. Meet the Ancestors: 5. Meet the ancestors; 6. The last common ancestor; 7. The hominid fossil record; Part III. The Evolution of Speech: 8. The evolution of the human vocal tract; 9. The evolution of vocal control; 10. Modelling the evolution of speech; Part IV. Phylogenetic Models of Language Evolution: 11. Language evolution before Darwin; 12. Lexical protolanguage; 13. Gestural protolanguage; 14. Musical protolanguage; 15. Conclusions & prospects.

Editorial Reviews

"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