The book examines the origins of language and grammar and also looks at the nature of being human. As a species, we have a long history of trying to find aspects of ourselves that are exclusively human. Some of the features of humanity thought to be solely the realm of the spiritual - for example cognition and emotion - are increasingly being explained in terms of physical effects. Exclusive physical functions are now questioned too - bipedality, dexterity, socialisation, delayed gratification. Could the differences between the human and animal kingdom be a matter of degrees rather than absolutes? Language, and language grammar, is one territory that might provide an answer.
Martin Edwardes builds a story examining the evolutionary sources of our self-recognition, of human culture and social institutions and of the cognitive forms that lie behind our linguistic grammatical forms. He covers the current thinking in the field of language origins and goes on to develop an essential new theory of the origins of grammar.
"Martin Edwardes has written a knowledgeable and thoughtful book on the origins of grammar. I am happy to say that Edwardes' book complements my own book of the same title, taking a similar view on central issues such as the importance of meaning, of social interaction and a gradualist view of evolution. Valuably, Edwardes approaches the topic from an anthropological viewpoint, as his subtitle makes clear. Together, both books offer innovative and thorough coverage of the field. " James R. Hurford, Professor (Emeritus), University of Edinburgh, Scotland
"Martin Edwardes has written a wonderfully clear book that sets out the central issues in linguistics that are pertinent to the evolution of grammar and brings them into contact with psychological and anthropological concerns. The style is accessible and will meet a broad audience but the thesis will set academics thinking, arguing and reaching for their pens." Tom Dickins, Reader in the School of Psychology, University of East London, UK