New PDF release: Language Origins: Perspectives on Evolution (Oxford Studies

By Maggie Tallerman

ISBN-10: 0199279047

ISBN-13: 9780199279043

This booklet addresses valuable questions within the evolution of language: the place it got here from; how and why it advanced; the way it got here to be culturally transmitted; and the way languages various. It does so from the point of view of the lateste paintings in linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, and machine technological know-how, and deploys the newest tools and theories toe probe into the origins and next improvement of thee in basic terms species that has languages.

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Additional info for Language Origins: Perspectives on Evolution (Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language, Volume 4)

Example text

Notice, however, that not every possible vowel was an actual vowel in human languages. The task of Oudeyer’s agents therefore was to discover the ‘correct’ vowels, as it were, by the same process of random vocalization and random interaction as in the previous simulation. Remarkably, under these conditions the categories that emerged in 500 simulation runs predicted with fair accuracy the relative frequencies and qualities of vowels in standard descriptions of human languages. Thus, Oudeyer demonstrated that neither maximized dispersion nor mutual imitation is necessary to yield the balanced system of vowel contrasts found in every language.

The Mirror System Hypothesis 27 syntactic structure. Moreover, he asserts that infant language, pidgins, and the ‘language’ taught to apes are all protolanguages in this sense; compare McDaniel, Chapter 7, on the notion of protolanguage. Bickerton hypothesizes that the protolanguage of Homo erectus was also a protolanguage in his sense and that language just ‘added syntax’ through the evolution of Universal Grammar. My counter-proposal is that the ‘language readiness’ possessed by the Wrst Homo sapiens did include the ability to communicate both manually and vocally—I use the terms protosign and protolanguage for the manual and spoken forms of protolanguage, with the preWx ‘proto’ here having no Bickertonian implication—but I propose that such protolanguages were composed mainly of ‘unitary utterances’ (a view shared, for example, by Wray 2000, who relates these to formulaic utterances in modern human languages), and I further propose that words co-evolved culturally with syntax through fractionation.

Broca’s area is, of course, well known to be involved in control of articulatory movements in speech and of manual movements both generally and in sign languages. Recently, the area has also been found, in brain-imaging studies, to be the site of a mirror system for grasping. These facts invite at least two observations. First, mirror neurons seem to provide neurophysiological evidence of ‘parity’ between actions of perceiving self and perceived other, a natural ground for the evolution of imitation.

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Language Origins: Perspectives on Evolution (Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language, Volume 4) by Maggie Tallerman


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