LINGUIST List 21.3248

Wed Aug 11 2010

Books: Sociolinguistics: Distin

Editor for this issue: Maria Moreno-Rollins <>

        1.    Daniel Davies, Cultural Evolution: Distin

Message 1: Cultural Evolution: Distin
Date: 11-Aug-2010
From: Daniel Davies <>
Subject: Cultural Evolution: Distin
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Title: Cultural Evolution Published: 2010 Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Book URL:

Author: Kate Distin Electronic: ISBN: 9780511784255 Pages: 280 Price: U.S. $ 22.00
Hardback: ISBN: 9780521769013 Pages: 280 Price: U.K. £ 55.00
Paperback: ISBN: 9780521189712 Pages: 280 Price: U.K. £ 17.99

In this book, Kate Distin proposes a theory of cultural evolution and showshow it can help us to understand the origin and development of humanculture. Distin introduces the concept that humans share information not onlyin natural languages, which are spoken or signed, but also in artefactuallanguages like writing and musical notation, which use media that are madeby humans. Languages enable humans to receive and transmit variations incultural information and resources. In this way, they provide the mechanismfor cultural evolution. The human capacity for metarepresentation - thinkingabout how we think - accelerates cultural evolution, because it frees culturalinformation from the conceptual limitations of each individual language. Distinshows how the concept of cultural evolution outlined in this book can help usto understand the complexity and diversity of human culture, relating hertheory to a range of subjects including economics, linguistics, anddevelopmental biology.

- Explains the origin of culture as the product of both natural and artefactuallanguages- Introduces a powerful new conceptual tool, namely the distinctionbetween natural and artefactual languages- Presents evidence, from a range of academic disciplines, that culturalevolution is a defensible theory with genuine explanatory value


1. Introduction: small consequences of one general law;Part I. The Inheritance of Cultural Information:2. What is information?;3. How is information inherited?;Part II. The Inheritance of Cultural Information: Natural Language:4. Natural language and culture: the biological building blocks;5. How did natural language evolve? Language, thought, and culture;Part III. In Inheritance of Cultural Information: Artefactual Language:7. How did artefactual language evolve?;8. Artefactual language, representation and culture;9. Money: an artefactual language;10. Money: the explanatory power of artefactual languages;Part III. The Receivers of Cultural Information:11. How does human diversity affect cultural evolution?;Part IV. The Expression of Cultural Information:12. Aspects of the cultural ecology;13. Patterns of cultural taxonomy;14. Conclusion: a representational understanding of cultural evolution;Appendix: what about memetics?

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
Written In: English (eng )

See this book announcement on our website:

-------------------------- Major Supporters --------------------------


Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Cambridge University Press

Cascadilla Press

Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd

De Gruyter Mouton

Edinburgh University Press

Elsevier Ltd

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Equinox Publishing Ltd

European Language Resources Association - ELRA

Georgetown University Press

John Benjamins

Lincom GmbH

MIT Press

Morgan & Claypool Publishers

Multilingual Matters

Narr Francke Attempto Verlag GmbH + Co. KG

Oxford University Press

Palgrave Macmillan

Peter Lang AG


Routledge (Taylor and Francis)


University of Toronto Press


---------------------- Other Supporting Publishers ----------------------

Association of Editors of the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics

Graduate Linguistic Students' Association, Umass

International Pragmatics Assoc.

Langues et Linguistique

Linguistic Association of Finland

Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics / Landelijke - LOT

Pacific Linguistics

SIL International

St. Jerome Publishing Ltd

Utrecht institute of Linguistics

Page Updated: 11-Aug-2010