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Cover

Origins of Language

A Slim Guide

James R. Hurford

March 2014

ISBN: 9780198701880

182 pages
Paperback
216x138mm

In Stock

Price: £16.99

This book offers an accessible overview of what is known about the evolution of the human capacity for language and what sets human language apart from the simple communication systems used by non-human animals. It draws on a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, neuroscience, genetics, and animal behaviour.

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Description

This book offers an accessible overview of what is known about the evolution of the human capacity for language and what sets human language apart from the simple communication systems used by non-human animals. It draws on a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, neuroscience, genetics, and animal behaviour.

  • Clear, concise, and accessible approach
  • Draws upon a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, neuroscience, genetics, and animal behaviour
  • Resolves the puzzling tension between human uniqueness and continuous evolution from apes

About the Author(s)

James R. Hurford, Emeritus Professor, University of Edinburgh

James R. Hurford is Emeritus Professor at the University of Edinburgh, where he was previously Professor of General Linguistics from 1979 until his retirement in 2009. Over the last 25 years he has pioneered the rebirth of serious scientific interest in the origins and evolution of language. He co-founded with Chris Knight the biennial international conferences on the evolution of language (known as EVOLANG), with Simon Kirby the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit at the University of Edinburgh, and with Kathleen Gibson the OUP series on language evolution. His previous publications include The Origins of Meaning (OUP 2007) and The Origins of Grammar (OUP 2011).

Table of Contents

    1:The prehistory of a very special ape
    2:Nature, nurture, and language
    3:How trusted talk started
    4:Concepts before language
    5:We began to speak, and hear differently
    6:Coining words
    7:Building powerful grammar engines
    8:Pronunciation gets complex

Reviews

"This short guide to modern empirical research on language evolution provides a breezy and readable introduction to the many issues involved in understanding how humans came to possess one of our most prized capacities: our ability to acquire and use language." - Tecumseh Fitch, University of Vienna