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Why We Talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language


Why We Talk: The Evolutionary Origins of Language Cover

ISBN13: 9780199563463
ISBN10: 0199563462
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Jean-Louis Dessalles explores the co-evolutionary paths of biology, culture, and the great human edifice of language, linking the evolution of the language to the general evolutionary history of humankind. He provides searchingly original answers to such fundamental paradoxes as to whether we acquired our greatest gift in order to talk or so as to be able to think, and as to why human beings should, as experience constantly confirms, contribute information for the well-being of others at their own expense and for no apparent gain: which if this is one of language's main functions appears to make its possession, in Darwinian terms, a disadvantage. Dr. Dessalles looks for solutions in the early history of human species and considers the degree to which language evolved as a means of choosing profitable coalition partners and maximizing individual success within a competitive social environment.

The author opens with a discussion of the differences between animal and human communication and the biological foundations of language. He looks at the physiological preconditions for language evolution and the early evolution of meaning and communication. He then embarks on an important and original account of the natural history of conversation. Here he considers the roles of language in supporting social cohesion and information exchange.

This challenging and original account will appeal to all those interested in the origins of language and the evolution of human behavior.

About the Author

Jean-Louis Dessalles is Associate Professor at Telecom ParisTech, where he organized the Third International Conference on the Evolution of Language in 2000. He is author of L'ordinateur genetique, Aux Origines du langage and La pertinence et ses origines, all published by Hermes-Science. He has published numerous articles in English and French on cognitive science, communication, and language evolution.

James Grieve is an Emeritus Reader at The Australian National University, Canberra. His major translations include works on autism, language and linguistics, myrmecology, Lacour-Gayet's Histoire de l'Australie, books for children, and two parts of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. He has published a Dictionary of Contemporary French Connectors and two novels for Young Adults.

Table of Contents

Part I The Place of Language in Human Evolutionary History

1. Animal and Human Communication

2. Culture, Languages, and Language

3. The Biological Roots of Language

4. Misapprehensions about the Origins of Language

5. Language as an Evolutionary Curiosity

6. The Local Optimality of Language

Part II The Functional Anatomy of Speech

7. Putting Sounds Together

8. Protolanguage

9. The Mechanics of Syntax

10. Syntax and Meaning

11. The Structure of Meanings

12. The Emergence of Meaning

Part III The Ethology of Language

13. Conversation Behaviour

14. Language as Information

15. The Birth of Argumentation

16. Language as an Evolutionary Paradox

17. The Political Origins of Language

18. Epilogue



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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

tiaonnaeq, August 9, 2011 (view all comments by tiaonnaeq)
As an English teacher I found not only did this book change the way I look at languages, it changed the way I looked at people. It was not a dry read and very informative. It also inspired me when I wrote my thesis on how DNA influences us to speak and why some people learn languages faster than others.

Thank you Dessalles.

Language is Chaos Theory in motion and this book proves that.
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Product Details

Dessalles, Jean-Louis
Oxford University Press, USA
Grieve, James
null, Jean-Louis
null, James
Grieve, James
Anthropology - Physical
Life Sciences - Evolution - Human
Linguistics - General
Communication Studies
Linguistics | Sociolinguistics
Anthropological linguistics
Linguistics | Sociolinguistics & Anthropological Linguistics
Edition Description:
Studies in the Evolution of Language
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
9.10x6.10x.90 in. 1.30 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Business » Communication
History and Social Science » Intercultural Communications » General
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Linguistics » General
History and Social Science » Linguistics » Specific Languages and Groups
Reference » Words Phrases and Language

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