- Hardcover: 230 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press (1 Mar. 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674363345
- ISBN-13: 978-0674363342
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 2.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,129,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Grooming Gossip and the Evolution of Language Hardcover – 1 Mar 1997
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Robin Dunbar's "Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language," is a highly enjoyable speculation, in Neo-Darwinian mode, of how and why humans came to have language. The argument of the book is the now not unfamiliar argument that the point of talking is being able to make small talk (the 'gossip' of the title), and that small talk produces social cohesion and mitigates social conflict. In other words, it does what primatologists have long claimed grooming does for non-human primates...The book is frequently humorous and charming, always readable, and often modest in tone...The citations to his own and others' original research and the review of the literature on non-human primate language and grooming practices, are part of what make this book well suited for a general readership, but also appropriate for a more specialized academic and student readership. -- Charis Cussins "Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences"
From the Back Cover
Apes and monkeys, humanity's closest kin, differ from other animals in the intensity of their social relationships. All their grooming is not so much about hygiene as it is about cementing bonds, making friends, and influencing fellow primates. But for early humans, grooming as a way to social success posed a problem: given their large social groups of 150 or so, our earliest ancestors would have had to spend almost half their time grooming one another - an impossible burden. What Dunbar suggests - and his research, whether in the realm of primatology or in that of gossip, confirms - is that humans developed language to serve the same purpose, but far more efficiently. It seems there is nothing idle about chatter, which holds together a diverse, dynamic group - whether of hunter-gatherers, soldiers, or workmates. Anthropologists have long assumed that language developed in relationships among males during activities such as hunting. Dunbar's original and extremely interesting studies suggest otherwise: that language in fact evolved in response to our need to keep up to date with friends and family. We needed conversation to stay in touch, and we still need it in ways that will not be satisfied by teleconferencing, e-mail, or any other communication technology. As Dunbar shows, the impersonal world of cyberspace will not fulfill our primordial need for face-to-face contact. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
I'll be following some of recommendations for further reader (pushing the boundaries of my knowledgr and opinions in the process) and seeking novels that delve into arenas I'd not considered before. Several of Dunbar's almost casual observations, used to clarify a point, are themselves avenues for my curiosity. For example, that Victorian mantra "children should be seen and not heard" seems succinctly explained as the consequence of the family group dynamic being stretched too taut thanks to greater survivability of infancy.
I thoroughly recommend Dunbar's writing, not least because I suspect other windows of interest and action may be inspired by it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dunbar discusses the title topics in a fresh and engaging way, offering an informative, engaging and at points, funny insight into the reasons and purposes for language. Read morePublished on 17 July 2013 by Freya
This a brilliant book, very in depth and descriptive. Ideal if you are studying canine behaviour.
Arrive a couple of days after I place my order.
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