Language has no counterpart in the animal world. Unique to Homo sapiens, it
appears inseparable from human nature. But how, when and why did it emerge?
The contributors to this volume - linguists, anthropologists, cognitive
scientists, and others - adopt a modern Darwinian perspective which offers
a bold synthesis of the human and natural sciences. As a feature of human
social intelligence, language evolution is driven by biologically anomalous
levels of social cooperation. Phonetic competence correspondingly reflects
social pressures for vocal imitation, learning, and other forms of social
transmission. Distinctively human social and cultural strategies gave rise
to the complex syntactical structure of speech. This book, presenting
language as a remarkable social adaptation, testifies to the growing
influence of evolutionary thinking in contemporary linguistics. It will be
welcomed by all those interested in human evolution, evolutionary
psychology, linguistic anthropology, and general linguistics.