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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information

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Title: The Origins of Grammar
Subtitle: Language in the Light of Evolution II
Written By: James R. Hurford
Series Title: Oxford Studies in the Evolution of Language

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

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
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Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Cognitive Science
Anthropological Linguistics
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0199207879
ISBN-13: 9780199207879
Pages: 808
Prices: U.K. £ 35.00