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The Evolution of Human Language: Biolinguistic Perspectives (Approaches to the Evolution of Language) Paperback – 7 Jan 2010

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (7 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521736250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521736251
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,353,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Book Description

The way language as a human faculty has evolved is a question that preoccupies researchers from a wide spread of disciplines. In this book, a team of writers has been brought together to examine the evolution of language from a variety of such standpoints.

About the Author

Richard K. Larson is Professor of Linguistics at Stony Brook University, New York.

Viviane Depréz is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Rutgers University, New Jersey.

Hiroko Yamakido is Assistant Professor of Japanese and Linguistics at Lawrence University, Wisconsin.


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The world's leading scientists and academics in the field came together in 2005 to debate the core subjects.
This balanced collection of papers from all sides, written to be accessible at a graduate level, is an amazing treat for anyone who has already some background on the subject.
I write this to counter-balance the negative review below which simply makes me ask if we have read the same book?

Besides the leading intellectuals who have renewed the field by helping it to clearly explore what precisely "language" and "evolution" mean: Noam ChomskyThe Science of Language: Interviews with James McGilvray & Massimo PIATELLI-PALMARINIWhat Darwin Got Wrong, the balanced list of scholars includes:

W. Tecumseh FITCH - world expert in evolutionary biology and author of the monumental work: The Evolution of Language
Michael C. CORBALLIS - world expert in psychology & neuroscience and author of THE best general introduction to the human evolution field: The Recursive Mind: The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization: The Origins of Human Thought, Language, and Civilization
Derek BICKERTON - linguist perpetually grinding his anti-Chomsky axe. see his book 'Adam's Tongue' for a popular, gossipy demonstration. This collection will help you understand where he is coming from and how he fits into the picture.
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Format: Paperback
This book is in support of Noam Chomsky's new view of the evolution (birth) of language, and as such an attempt to adapt his earlier opinion to newer ideas and conceptions. And yes, it includes Theoretical discussion based upon what a supposed Martian might supposedly think.
Beside an article by Chomsky et al. there are several other articles, by other authors.
Basically the theory is not satisfactory; it sets the start of language as the use of Chomsky's favourite concept of recursion, and does this by defining language that way. This way there is no place for the important characteristic of language that it is a sign-system, i.e. that utterances not just are built up a certain way, but actually does carry a meaning; and by the use of this unnatural definition possible early proto languages consisting of single words and simple combinations of words are left out.

The insufficiency of the theory is proved by supposing the use of a Mntaleese as a condition; that is, supposing something language-like to exist as a basis for language. This means that this is not really a theory of the development of human language - unless we assume, that some animals also possess a mentalese.
Furthermore Symbolic Thinking is assumed as a precondition for language; what these symbols might be, how acquired by the individual etc. is not discussed.

However, beside stating Chomsky's recent ideas, several of the articles do give valuable information on ongoing research, and are worth reading for their contents.
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