Synopses & Reviews
Human language is a weird communication system: it has more in common with birdsong than with the calls of other primates. Jean Aitchison explores the origins of human language and how it has evolved. She likens the search to a vast prehistoric jigsaw puzzle, in which numerous fragments of evidence must be assembled. Such evidence is pieced together from a mixture of linguistic and nonlinguistic sources such as evolution theory, archaeology, psychology, and anthropology. This is an accessible and wide-ranging introduction to the origins and evolution of human language.
Accessible and wide-ranging introduction to the origins and evolution of human language.
An introduction to the origins and evolution of human language.
Clear and non-technical overview of the history of language development by popular author.
Table of Contents
Preface; Part I. Puzzles: 1. A natural curiosity: how did language begin?; 2. A peculiar habit: what is language for?; 3. The bother at Babel: why do languages differ so much?; 4. Distinct duties: is language an independent skill?; Part II. Origin: 5. The family tree: the evolutionary background; 6. A devious mind: the basic requirements; 7. Broken air: inherited ingredients; 8. Small beginnings: first steps; Part III. Evolution: 9. The secong word: the emergence of rules; 10. The tower of speech: expansion; 11. Time travelling: extra attachments; 12. Rebuilding on the high seas: keeping going; Part IV. Diffusion: 13. The widening circle: moving outwards; 14. The hidden core: the hunt for universals; 15. The real magician: ruling the rules; 16. Unweaving the rainbow: separating the strands; 17. The endless stair: past and future; Symbols used in the text; Notes and suggestions for further reading; References; Index.