LINGUIST List 23.5107

Thu Dec 06 2012

Books: How Language Began: McNeill

Editor for this issue: Rebekah McClure <>

Date: 30-Nov-2012
From: Joyce Reid <>
Subject: How Language Began: McNeill
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Title: How Language BeganSubtitle: Gesture and Speech in Human EvolutionSeries Title: Approaches to the Evolution of Language

Publication Year: 2012Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Book URL:

Author: David McNeill

Hardback: ISBN: 9781107021211 Pages: 278 Price: U.S. $ 95.00Paperback: ISBN: 9781107605497 Pages: 275 Price: U.S. $ 36.99


Human language is not the same as human speech. We use gestures and signs tocommunicate alongside, or instead of, speaking. Yet gestures and speech areprocessed in the same areas of the human brain, and the study of how both haveevolved is central to research on the origins of human communication. Writtenby one of the pioneers of the field, this is the first book to explain howspeech and gesture evolved together into a system that all humans possess.Nearly all theorizing about the origins of language either ignores gesture,views it as an add-on or supposes that language began in gesture and was laterreplaced by speech. David McNeill challenges the popular 'gesture-first'theory that language first emerged in a gesture-only form and proposes agroundbreaking theory of the evolution of language which explains how speechand gesture became unified.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction – gesture and the origin of language2. What evolved (in part) – the Growth Point3. How it evolved (in part) – Mead's Loop4. Effects of Mead's Loop5. Ontogenesis in evolution – evolution in ontogenesis6. Alternatives, their limits, and the science base of the Growth Point

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics Psycholinguistics

Written In: English (eng)

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Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Cambridge University Press

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Edinburgh University Press

Elsevier Ltd

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Equinox Publishing Ltd

European Language Resources Association - ELRA

Georgetown University Press

Hodder Education

John Benjamins

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MIT Press

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Multilingual Matters

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Oxford University Press

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Routledge (Taylor and Francis)


University of Toronto Press


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

Association of Editors of the Journal of Portuguese Linguistics

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SIL International

University of Nebraska Press

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Page Updated: 06-Dec-2012