The Evolution of Human Language

The Evolution of Human Language : Scenarios, Principles, and Cultural Dynamics

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Wolfgang Wildgen presents three perspectives on the evolution of language as a key element in the evolution of mankind in terms of the development of human symbol use. (1) He approaches this question by constructing possible scenarios in which mechanisms necessary for symbolic behavior could have developed, on the basis of the state of the art in evolutionary anthropology and genetics. (2) Non-linguistic symbolic behavior such as cave art is investigated as an important clue to the developmental background to the origin of language. Creativity and innovation and a population's ability to integrate individual experiments are considered with regard to historical examples of symbolic creativity in the visual arts and natural sciences. (3) Probable linguistic 'fossils' of such linguistic innovations are examined. The results of this study allow for new proposals for a 'protolanguage' and for a theory of language within a broader philosophical and semiotic framework, and raises interesting questions as to human consciousness, universal grammar, and linguistic methodology. (Series B)show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 252 pages
  • 154.9 x 226.1 x 20.3mm | 521.64g
  • John Benjamins Publishing Co
  • Benjamins (John) North America Inc.,US
  • Netherlands
  • English
  • 1588115186
  • 9781588115188

Table of contents

1. Acknowledgments; 2. 1. Introduction; 3. 2. Basic scenarios and forces in the evolution of human language; 4. 3. Expression and appeal in animal and human communication with special consideration of laughter; 5. 4. The evolution of cognitive control in tool-making and tool-use and the emergence of a theory of mind; 6. 5. The evolution of pre-historic art and the transition to writing systems; 7. 6. Symbolic creativity in language, art, and science and the cultural dynamics of symbolic forms; 8. 7. "Fossils" of evolution in the lexicon of HAND and EYE (mainly in German, English and French); 9. 8. The form of a "protolanguage" and the contours of a theory of language evolution; 10. 9. Symbolic forms, generalized media, and their evolution; 11. 10. Consciousness, linguistic universals, and the methodology of linguistics; 12. Notes; 13. References; 14. Index of proper names; 15. Subject index; 16. Index of principles and hypothesesshow more