LINGUIST List 8.378

Tue Mar 18 1997

Qs: Lg origins, Armenian, Job lists

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate.


  1. Larry Trask, Language origins
  2. Dennis R. Preston, Armenian tapes
  3. Mariana Maduell, Job listing and MSc program info

Message 1: Language origins

Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 18:22:00 +0000 (GMT)
From: Larry Trask <>
Subject: Language origins

I've been invited to contribute a (very brief) article on the origin
of human language to an archeology journal which is planning an issue
with articles on the subject from specialists in a variety of
disciplines. Strictly, I'm only expected to present my own views,
but, since I'm the only linguist among the contributors, I would
prefer, as far as I honestly can, to present "the view from
linguistics". I would therefore welcome comments on the following
points. The first three are assertions; the last is a question.

(1) Human language is incomparably different from anything found in
living non-human species.

I take it that few if any linguists would take issue with this
statement, but there are certainly non-linguists who do deny it, and
one of them has also been invited to contribute.

(2) Language came into existence gradually and incrementally, and did
not emerge suddenly, without deriving from a sequence of antecedents
of increasing complexity.

The only linguist I can name who rejects this statement is Derek
Bickerton, but there may be others. Still, I'm assuming that this
assertion represents the views of most linguists who have a view.

(3) Language evolved by natural selection, and it is not an
accidental by-product of evolution that took place for other reasons.

This is more controversial, and I may be surprised at what I hear, but
the definitive statement of this position (Pinker and Bloom) was
co-written by a linguist.

(4) When did language come into existence?

It's not clear to me that linguists generally have any view on this
issue, or even that it's an issue on which we *should* have a view.
But all comments welcomed.

Please reply to me personally; I'll post a summary to Linguist.

Larry Trask
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Armenian tapes

Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 19:18:42 -0400
From: Dennis R. Preston <>
Subject: Armenian tapes

Can anyone direct me to Armenian tapes and/or texts (or a good source for
advice). I have a student who was a childhood speaker and would like to
'revive' his skills.



Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
Office: (517)432-1235
Fax: (517)432-2736
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Job listing and MSc program info

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 1997 23:42:35 -1000
From: Mariana Maduell <>
Subject: Job listing and MSc program info

A couple of questions with respect to job and/or program hunting on or
off line:

Is there an equivalent to the U.K.'s Times Higher Education Supplement for
Spain or Italy (for job listings)?

Is there a concise listing of U.K. and continental European masters
programs in computer/information science that cater to linguists
seeking a second masters degree?

I would welcome information relevant to either of these. Please post

Mariana Maduell

Dr. M. Maduell				e-mail:
P.O. Box 62206
Honolulu HI, 96839, U.S.A.		phone: (808)735-7515
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue