By Chris Knight, Michael Studdert-Kennedy, James Hurford
The Evolutionary Emergence of Language covers the origins and early evolution of language. Its major goal is to synthesize present pondering in this subject, really from a viewpoint in theoretical linguistics. it truly is compatible for college kids of human evolution, evolutionary psychology, linguistic anthropology and normal linguistics. it's the end result of an incredible foreign convention at the evolution of language and contains contributions from a number of the most sensible identified figures during this box. only a few really interdisciplinary volumes in this subject have formerly been published.
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Additional resources for The Evolutionary Emergence of Language: Social Function and the Origins of Linguistic Form
The second observation extends the first: both humans and animals are sometimes able to interpret another’s instrumental behavior even when that other individual had no intention at all to communicate. In the first part of this chapter I seek to justify these two observations. I will then consider their implications for our understanding of the origins of language. Children, who appear to learn their first language with such magical ease, give us the most familiar example of the priority of comprehension.
A dog’s wagging tail tells us that he is happy, while the wagging tail of a cat conveys a very different emotion. The relationship between the form and the meaning of a tail wag may seem to be every bit as arbitrary as the relation between the form and meaning of a spoken word. However, unlike words, but like other animal signals, tail wags are firmly set by the genetic inheritance of the species. This gives the ritualised arbitrariness of gesture-calls an utterly different basis than the conventional arbitrariness of words.
For Knight, the key factor acting to deny animals freedom to play is reproductive competition and conflict. The onset of sexual maturity brings with it the Darwinian imperative to engage in potentially lethal sexual competition. In the primate case, this impinges upon life concurrently with sexual maturity, setting up anxieties, divisions and status differentials which permeate and effectively constitute adult sociality. If imaginative playfulness diminishes in frequency, it is because autonomous, freely creative expressivity is simply not compatible with a situation in which individuals feel anxious or externally threatened.