Why We Talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language

Paperback | August 2, 2009

byJean-Louis DessallesTranslated byJames Grieve

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Jean-Louis Dessalles explores the co-evolutionary paths of biology, culture, and the great human edifice of language, linking the evolution of the language to the general evolutionary history of humankind. He provides searchingly original answers to such fundamental paradoxes as to whether weacquired our greatest gift in order to talk or so as to be able to think, and as to why human beings should, as experience constantly confirms, contribute information for the well-being of others at their own expense and for no apparent gain: which if this is one of language's main functions appearsto make its possession, in Darwinian terms, a disadvantage. Dr Dessalles looks for solutions in the early history of human species and considers the degree to which language evolved as a means of choosing profitable coalition partners and maximizing individual success within a competitive socialenvironment. The author opens with a discussion of the differences between animal and human communication and the biological foundations of language. He looks at the physiological preconditions for language evolution and the early evolution of meaning and communication. He then embarks on an important andoriginal account of the natural history of conversation. Here he considers the roles of language in supporting social cohesion and information exchange. This challenging and original account will appeal to all those interested in the origins of language and the evolution of human behaviour.

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Jean-Louis Dessalles explores the co-evolutionary paths of biology, culture, and the great human edifice of language, linking the evolution of the language to the general evolutionary history of humankind. He provides searchingly original answers to such fundamental paradoxes as to whether weacquired our greatest gift in order to talk ...

Jean-Louis Dessalles is Associate Professor at Telecom ParisTech, where he organized the Third International Conference on the Evolution of Language in 2000. He is author of L'ordinateur genetique, Aux Origines du langage and La pertinence et ses origines, all published by Hermes-Science. He has published numerous articles in English ...
Format:PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.91 inPublished:August 2, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199563462

ISBN - 13:9780199563463

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Table of Contents

Part I: The Place of Language in Human Evolutionary History1. Animal and Human Communication2. Culture, Languages, and Language3. The Biological Roots of Language4. Misapprehensions about the Origins of Language5. Language as an Evolutionary Curiosity6. The Local Optimality of LanguagePart II: The Functional Anatomy of Speech7. Putting Sounds Together8. Protolanguage9. The Mechanics of Syntax10. Syntax and Meaning11. The Structure of Meanings12. The Emergence of MeaningPart III: The Ethology of Language13. Conversation Behaviour14. Language as Information15. The Birth of Argumentation16. Language as an Evolutionary Paradox17. The Political Origins of Language18. EpilogueReferenceIndex