It was about one and a half years ago that I finally I arrived where I had always wanted to be and do what I had always wanted-- teach students, support small language communities and conduct research on African languages on my doorstep. The University of Cape Town and my new colleagues welcomed my efforts to establish the Centre for African Language Diversity-- CALDi as well as The African Language Archive-- TALA and I was recently appointed the Mellon Research Chair: African Language Diversity this initiative. The main aim of CALDi is to train young African scholars in descriptive linguistics and open up space for research into African languages at UCT with the hopes of countering the dominance of African linguistics outside the continent. It has been a great challenge for which my whole career has been a form of preparation...Read more
The Cambridge Handbook of Communication Disorders examines the full range of developmental and acquired communication disorders and provides the most up-to-date and comprehensive guide to the epidemiology, aetiology and clinical features of these disorders.
Semantic Structures, Communicative Principles and the Emergence of Language
How did human language become so structurally complex? This dissertation presents evidence that complex syntactic rules in modern human language emerged via a pre-syntactic stage that was governed by semantic principles. This dissertation investigates the influence of meaning in evolutionarily early language by looking at situations in which people cannot use or learn a language normally. The systems that arise in those situations are called restricted linguistic systems, and examples of such systems are the language of unsupervised adult second language learners and home sign. This dissertation relates observations from restricted linguistic systems to a novel approach taken up in the laboratory, in which participants are asked to communicate about simple events using only gesture and no speech: improvised communication. Together the two branches of evidence constitute a picture of evolutionarily early language in which semantic principles take a central position: they precede and ultimately drive syntactic rules.
Because of its interdisciplinary approach, this book targets a wide audience, and it will be relevant to linguists (and non-linguists) interested in meaning, language and evolution.