The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved

Paperback | April 15, 2007

byRobbins Burling

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In this mind-opening book, Robbins Burling presents the most convincing - and the most readable - account of the origins of language yet published. He sheds new light on how language affects the way we think, behave, and relate to each other, and he gives us a deeper understanding of thenature of language itself.The author traces language back to its earliest origins among our distant ape-like forbears several million years ago. He offers a new account of the route by which we acquired our defining characteristic and explores the changing nature of language as it developed through the course of ourevolution. He considers what the earliest forms of communication are likely to have been, how they worked, and why they were deployed. He examines the qualities of mind and brain needed to support the operations of language and the advantages they offered for survival and reproduction. Heinvestigates the beginnings and prehistories of vocabulary and grammar; and connects work in fields extending from linguistics, sign languages, and psychology to palaeontology, evolutionary biology, and archaeology. And he does all this in a style that is crystal-clear, constantly enlivened by witand humour.

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From the Publisher

In this mind-opening book, Robbins Burling presents the most convincing - and the most readable - account of the origins of language yet published. He sheds new light on how language affects the way we think, behave, and relate to each other, and he gives us a deeper understanding of thenature of language itself.The author traces langu...

Robbins Burling is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Michigan and has long been interested in language, and human evolution. His books include Hill Farms and Padi Fields: Life in Mainland Southeast Asia, The Passage of Power, Patterns of Language, and The Strong Women of Modhupur.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.67 inPublished:April 15, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199214034

ISBN - 13:9780199214037

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Table of Contents

1. In The Beginning2. Smiles, Winks, and Words3. Truths and Lies4. The Mind and Language5. Signs and Symbols6. Icons Gained and Icons Lost7. From A Few Sounds To Many Words8. Syntax: Wired and Learned9. Step By Step To Grammar10. Power, Gossip, and Seduction11. What Has Language Done To Us?NotesGlossaryBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

A great book ... one of the most approachable books on the development of human language available. Oxbow