The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body
by Steven Mithen
- along with the concepts of consciousness and intelligence, our capacity
for language sits right at the core of what makes us human. But while the
evolutionary origins of language have provoked speculation and impassioned
debate, music has been neglected if not ignored. Like language it is a
universal feature of human culture, one that is a permanent fixture in our
daily lives. In The Singing Neanderthal, Steven Mithen redresses the balance,
drawing on a huge range of sources, from neurological case studies, through
child psychology and the communication systems of non-human primates to the
latest paleoarchaeological evidence. The result is a fascinating and provocative
work, and a succinct riposte to those, like Steven Pinker, who have dismissed
music as a functionless and unimportant evolutionary byproduct.
- a collection of essays on the origins and evolution of language by
scholars from a range of fields, including linguistics, archaeology,
cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology and biology. Discusses
the latest theories and current controveries.
- provides an accessible and up-to-date presentation of the evidence for
human evolution: the fossils, artifacts and artwork that paleoanthropologists
and archaeologists have discovered and debated during the past century and a half.
- explores the ways in which languages change, intertwine and
disappear. Explains how a single original language developed into
the 6,000 or so languages spoken today. Compares linguistic change
to biological evolution.
The Unfolding of Language: The Evolution of Mankind's greatest Invention
by Guy Deutscher
- provides fascinating insights into how and why languages change and evolve. It shows
how complex inflectional systems can arise, and fall; how forces of destruction can also
be forces of creation; how many words started life as metaphors, and many other things.
- the author argues that humans have not evolved gradually since the split from
their great ape ancestor. Instead, modern humans emerged suddenly around 120,000
years ago, with a 'below the neck' physiology similar to our hominid ancestor, but
with a radically altered skull, face and brain. Adult humans have essentially retained
the infant proportions of our immediate ancestor's 'above the neck' morphology. A
mutation that radically altered the early developmental pathway of our immediate
hominid ancestor has led to the dramatic changes in both anatomy and brain architecture.
Modern human cognition and language did not evolved gradually in Darwinian fashion,
but emerged suddenly with this mutation. Evidence from Paleontology, Archaeology
and Genetics, is garnered to support this theory for the sudden appearance of modern humans.
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