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.
edited by Morten H. Christiansen and Simon Kirby
- 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.
by Jean Aitchinson
- explores the origins of human language and how it evolved, looking for possible precursors to language in animal communication.
by Donald Johanson
- 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.
by John McWhorter
- 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.
by James R. Hurford et al
- examines language from a neo-Darwinian point of view with contributions from linguists, psychologists, and paleoanthropologists.
by Merritt Ruhlen
by Bernard Comrie, Stephen Matthews and Maria Polinsky (Editors)
by Michael C. Corballis
- the central theory of this book is that human language started with gestures then later evolved into speech.
by Robin Dunbar
- argues confincingly that language is the human equivalent of grooming in other apes and monkeys, and that it evolved to enable us to cope with larger group sizes. Very interesting.
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.
by Susan Lanyon
- 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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