The Origin of Speech

Paperback | March 1, 2010

byPeter MacNeilage

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This book explores the origin and evolution of speech. The human speech system is in a league of its own in the animal kingdom and its possession dwarfs most other evolutionary achievements. During every second of speech we unconsciously use about 225 distinct muscle actions. To investigatethe evolutionary origins of this prodigious ability, Peter MacNeilage draws on work in linguistics, cognitive science, evolutionary biology, and animal behavior. He puts forward a neo-Darwinian account of speech as a process of descent in which ancestral vocal capabilities became modified inresponse to natural selection pressures for more efficient communication. His proposals include the crucial observation that present-day infants learning to produce speech reveal constraints that were acting on our ancestors as they invented new words long ago.This important and original investigation integrates the latest research on modern speech capabilities, their acquisition, and their neurobiology, including the issues surrounding the cerebral hemispheric specialization for speech. Written in a clear style with minimal recourse to jargon the bookwill interest a wide range of readers in cognitive, neuro-, and evolutionary science, as well as all those seeking to understand the nature and evolution of speech and human communication.

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This book explores the origin and evolution of speech. The human speech system is in a league of its own in the animal kingdom and its possession dwarfs most other evolutionary achievements. During every second of speech we unconsciously use about 225 distinct muscle actions. To investigatethe evolutionary origins of this prodigious ab...

Peter MacNeilage is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He has written over 120 papers on the topic of complex action systems and their evolution. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Acoustical Society of America, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral a...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:408 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:March 1, 2010Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199581584

ISBN - 13:9780199581580

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Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction1. Background: The Intellectual Context2. Getting to the Explanation of SpeechPart II: Speech and its origin: The Frame/Content Theory3. The Nature of Modern Hominid Speech4. Speech in Deep Time: How Speech Got StartedPart III: The Relation Between Ontogeny and Phylogeny5. Ontogeny and Phylogeny 1: The Frame Stage6. Ontogeny and Phylogeny 2: The Frame/Content Stage7. The Origin of Words: How Frame-Stage Patterns Acquired MeaningsPart IV: Brain Organization and the Evolution of Speech8. Evolution of Brain Organization for Speech: Background9. A Dual Brain System for the Frame/Content Mode10. Evolution of Cerebral Hemispheric Specialization for SpeechPart V: The Frame/Content Theory and Generative Linguistics11. Generative Phonology and the Origin of Speech12. Generative Phonology and the Acquisition of SpeechPart VI: A Perspective on Speech From Manual Evolution13. An Amodal Phonology? Implications of the Existence of Sign LanguagePart VII: Last Things14. Ultimate Causes: Genes and Memes15. ConclusionsReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"erudite and readable... MacNeilage goes out of his way to engage the reader with wonderfully interesting facts" --N.J. Enfield, Times Literary Supplement 12/09/2008