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New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information


Title: Cultural Evolution
Written By: Kate Distin

In this book, Kate Distin proposes a theory of cultural evolution and shows
how it can help us to understand the origin and development of human
culture. Distin introduces the concept that humans share information not only
in natural languages, which are spoken or signed, but also in artefactual
languages like writing and musical notation, which use media that are made
by humans. Languages enable humans to receive and transmit variations in
cultural information and resources. In this way, they provide the mechanism
for cultural evolution. The human capacity for metarepresentation - thinking
about how we think - accelerates cultural evolution, because it frees cultural
information from the conceptual limitations of each individual language. Distin
shows how the concept of cultural evolution outlined in this book can help us
to understand the complexity and diversity of human culture, relating her
theory to a range of subjects including economics, linguistics, and
developmental biology.

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

Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics
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Format: Electronic
ISBN-13: 9780511784255
Pages: 280
Prices: U.S. $ 22.00
Format: Hardback
ISBN-13: 9780521769013
Pages: 280
Prices: U.K. £ 55.00

Format: Paperback
ISBN-13: 9780521189712
Pages: 280
Prices: U.K. £ 17.99