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LINGUIST List 23.5107

Thu Dec 06 2012

Books: How Language Began: McNeill

Editor for this issue: Rebekah McClure <rebekahlinguistlist.org>

Date: 30-Nov-2012
From: Joyce Reid <jreidcambridge.org>
Subject: How Language Began: McNeill
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Title: How Language Began
Subtitle: Gesture and Speech in Human Evolution
Series Title: Approaches to the Evolution of Language

Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Book URL: http://www.cambridge.org/us/knowledge/isbn/item6679012/How%20Language%20Began/?site_locale=en_US

Author: David McNeill

Hardback: ISBN: 9781107021211 Pages: 278 Price: U.S. $ 95.00
Paperback: ISBN: 9781107605497 Pages: 275 Price: U.S. $ 36.99


Human language is not the same as human speech. We use gestures and signs to
communicate alongside, or instead of, speaking. Yet gestures and speech are
processed in the same areas of the human brain, and the study of how both have
evolved is central to research on the origins of human communication. Written
by one of the pioneers of the field, this is the first book to explain how
speech and gesture evolved together into a system that all humans possess.
Nearly all theorizing about the origins of language either ignores gesture,
views it as an add-on or supposes that language began in gesture and was later
replaced by speech. David McNeill challenges the popular 'gesture-first'
theory that language first emerged in a gesture-only form and proposes a
groundbreaking theory of the evolution of language which explains how speech
and gesture became unified.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction – gesture and the origin of language
2. What evolved (in part) – the Growth Point
3. How it evolved (in part) – Mead's Loop
4. Effects of Mead's Loop
5. Ontogenesis in evolution – evolution in ontogenesis
6. Alternatives, their limits, and the science base of the Growth Point

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Written In: English (eng)

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