This book addresses central questions in the evolution of language: where
it came from; how it relates to primate communication; how and why it
evolved; how it came to be culturally transmitted; and how languages
diversified. The chapters are written from the perspective of the latest
work in linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, and computer science, and
reflect the idea that various cognitive, physical, neurological, social,
and cultural prerequisites led to the development of full human language.
Some of these evolutionary changes were preadaptations for language, while
others were adaptive changes allowing the development of particular
linguistic characteristics. The authors consider a broad spectrum of ideas
about the conditions that led to the evolution of protolanguage and full
language. Some examine changes that occurred in the course of evolution to
Homo sapiens; others consider how languages themselves have adapted by
evolving to be learnable. Some chapters look at the workings of the brain,
and others deploy sophisticated computer simulations that model such
aspects as the emergence of speech sounds and the development of grammar.
All make use of the latest methods and theories to probe into the origins
and subsequent development of the only species that has language.
The book will interest a wide range of linguists, cognitive scientists,
biologists, psychologists, neuroscientists, and experts in artificial
intelligence, as well as all those fascinated by issues, puzzles, and
problems raised by the evolution of language.