The Origins of Complex Language: An Inquiry into the Evolutionary Beginnings of Sentences…

Paperback | March 1, 1999

byAndrew Carstairs-mccarthy

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This book proposes a new theory of the origins of human language ability and presents an original account of the early evolution of language. It explains why humans are the only language-using animals, challenges the assumption that language is a consequence of intelligence, and offers a newperspective on human uniqueness. The author draws on evidence from archaeology, linguistics, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology. Making no assumptions about the reader's prior knowledge he first provides an introductory but critical survey of all sources of evidence for language evolution. He then considers what languageitself reveals about its own and human origins and evolution. He shows that certain central aspects of language do not, unexpectedly, reflect what they are used for, are maladapted for their function. He considers why this should be, and argues that these odd aspects of language reveal importantclues about its evolutionary origin. The Origins of Complex Language fulfils the promise of its title. In doing so it turns upside down conventional theories about the relation between cognition and expression, truth and reference, and the co-evolution of mind and body. Original in conception, brilliantly executed, stylishly written,this book will attract a wide range of readers interested in the evolution and origins of language.

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This book proposes a new theory of the origins of human language ability and presents an original account of the early evolution of language. It explains why humans are the only language-using animals, challenges the assumption that language is a consequence of intelligence, and offers a newperspective on human uniqueness. The author...

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy is at University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

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Format:PaperbackPublished:March 1, 1999Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198238215

ISBN - 13:9780198238218

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. The peculiarities of language3. Truth and reference4. Attempts to solve the problems5. A different solution6. Apes, anthropology, and the brain7. Just how unique are we?AppendixFurther readingReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

`I was dazzled by the level of erudition manifested by OCL and its uncanny ability to marshal an astonishingly diverse and seemingly unrelated set of facts in support of its controversial hypothesis. Whatever its flaws, there is nothing like it in the language evolution literature. This book,I predict, will take over from Bickerton's 'Language and Species' the status of point of departure for all linguistically informed studies of biological evolution of grammer'F Newmeyer, Journal of Linguistics