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The Evolution of Language (2010)

The Evolution of Language

Author(s): W. Tecumseh Fitch

Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Year: 2010

ISBN: 052185993X,9780521859936,9780521677363,9780511677472

Language, more than anything else, is what makes us human. It appears that no communication system of equivalent power exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Any normal human child will learn a language based on rather sparse data in the surrounding world, while even the brightest chimpanzee, exposed to the same environment, will not. Why not? How, and why, did language evolve in our species and not in others? Since Darwin’s theory of evolution, questions about the origin of language have generated a rapidly-growing scientific literature, stretched across a number of disciplines, much of it directed at specialist audiences. The diversity of perspectives – from linguistics, anthropology, speech science, genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology – can be bewildering. Tecumseh Fitch cuts through this vast literature, bringing together its most important insights to explore one of the biggest unsolved puzzles of human history.