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