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Book Information

   
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Title: The Origins of Grammar
Subtitle: Language in the Light of Evolution II
Written By: James R. Hurford
URL: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199207879.do
Series Title: Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language
Description:

This is the second of the two closely linked but self-contained volumes that
comprise James Hurford's acclaimed exploration of the biological evolution of
language. In the first book he looked at the evolutionary origins of meaning,
ending as our distant ancestors were about to step over the brink to modern
language. He now considers how that step might have been taken and the
consequences it undoubtedly had.

The capacity for language lets human beings formulate and express an
unlimited range of propositions about real or fictitious worlds. It allows them
to communicate these propositions, often overlaid with layers of nuance and
irony, to other humans who can then interpret and respond to them. These
processes take place at breakneck speed. Using a language means learning
a vast number of arbitrary connections between forms and meanings and
rules on how to manipulate them, both of which a normal human child can do
in its first few years of life. James Hurford looks at how this miracle came
about.

The book is divided into three parts. In the first the author surveys the
syntactic structures evident in the communicative behaviour of animals, such
as birds and whales, and discusses how vocabularies of learned symbols
could have evolved and the effects this had on human thought. In the second
he considers how far the evolution of grammar depended on biological or
cultural factors. In the third and final part he describes the probable route by
which the human language faculty and languages evolved from simple
beginnings to their present complex state.

Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Syntax
Cognitive Science
Anthropological Linguistics
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
Click here to see the original emailed issue.

Versions:
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199207879
ISBN-13: 9780199207879
Pages: 808
Prices: U.K. £ 35.00