Adam s Tongue

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Hill and Wang
ISBN: 9781429930291
Format: PDF
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How language evolved has been called "the hardest problem in science." In Adam's Tongue, Derek Bickerton—long a leading authority in this field—shows how and why previous attempts to solve that problem have fallen short. Taking cues from topics as diverse as the foraging strategies of ants, the distribution of large prehistoric herbivores, and the construction of ecological niches, Bickerton produces a dazzling new alternative to the conventional wisdom. Language is unique to humans, but it isn't the only thing that sets us apart from other species—our cognitive powers are qualitatively different. So could there be two separate discontinuities between humans and the rest of nature? No, says Bickerton; he shows how the mere possession of symbolic units—words—automatically opened a new and different cognitive universe, one that yielded novel innovations ranging from barbed arrowheads to the Apollo spacecraft. Written in Bickerton's lucid and irreverent style, this book is the first that thoroughly integrates the story of how language evolved with the story of how humans evolved. Sure to be controversial, it will make indispensable reading both for experts in the field and for every reader who has ever wondered how a species as remarkable as ours could have come into existence.

Adam s Tongue

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 9780809022816
Format: PDF, Docs
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The renowned linguist author of Bastard Tongues presents a revisionist assessment of evolution that credits language as a key component in what separates humans from animals, in an account that explains how "power scavenging" forced early humans to break from previous communication systems and acquire new brain structures.

Language and Species

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 9780226046112
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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Language and Species presents the most detailed and well-documented scenario to date of the origins of language. Drawing on "living linguistic fossils" such as "ape talk," the "two-word" stage of small children, and pidgin languages, and on recent discoveries in paleoanthropology, Bickerton shows how a primitive "protolanguage" could have offered Homo erectus a novel ecological niche. He goes on to demonstrate how this protolanguage could have developed into the languages we speak today. "You are drawn into [Bickerton's] appreciation of the dominant role language plays not only in what we say, but in what we think and, therefore, what we are."—Robert Wright, New York Times Book Review "The evolution of language is a fascinating topic, and Bickerton's Language and Species is the best introduction we have."—John C. Marshall, Nature

More than Nature Needs

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 067472853X
Format: PDF
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How did humans acquire cognitive capacities far more powerful than any hunting-and-gathering primate needed to survive? Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Darwin of evolutionary theory, set humans outside normal evolution. Darwin thought use of language might have shaped our sophisticated brains, but this remained an intriguing guess--until now. Combining state-of-the-art research with forty years of writing and thinking about language origins, Derek Bickerton convincingly resolves a crucial problem that biology and the cognitive sciences have systematically avoided. Before language or advanced cognition could be born, humans had to escape the prison of the here and now in which animal thinking and communication were both trapped. Then the brain's self-organization, triggered by words, assembled mechanisms that could link not only words but the concepts those words symbolized--a process that had to be under conscious control. Those mechanisms could be used equally for thinking and for talking, but the skeletal structures they produced were suboptimal for the hearer and had to be elaborated. Starting from humankind's remotest past, More than Nature Needs transcends nativist thesis and empiricist antithesis by presenting a revolutionary synthesis that shows specifically and in a principled way how and why the synthesis came about.

Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior

Author: Peter B. Gray
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674074394
Format: PDF, Mobi
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A comprehensive survey of the evolutionary science of human sexual behavior, Evolution and Human Sexual Behavior invites us to imagine human sex from the vantage point of our primate cousins, in order to underscore the role of evolution in shaping all that happens, biologically and behaviorally, when romantic passions are aroused.

The Evolution of Language

Author: W. Tecumseh Fitch
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 113948706X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Language, more than anything else, is what makes us human. It appears that no communication system of equivalent power exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom. Any normal human child will learn a language based on rather sparse data in the surrounding world, while even the brightest chimpanzee, exposed to the same environment, will not. Why not? How, and why, did language evolve in our species and not in others? Since Darwin's theory of evolution, questions about the origin of language have generated a rapidly-growing scientific literature, stretched across a number of disciplines, much of it directed at specialist audiences. The diversity of perspectives - from linguistics, anthropology, speech science, genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology - can be bewildering. Tecumseh Fitch cuts through this vast literature, bringing together its most important insights to explore one of the biggest unsolved puzzles of human history.

Slang

Author: Michael Adams
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199986533
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Slang, writes Michael Adams, is poetry on the down low, and sometimes lowdown poetry on the down low, but rarely, if ever, merely lowdown. It is the poetry of everyday speech, the people's poetry, and it deserves attention as language playing on the cusp of art. In Slang: The People's Poetry, Adams covers this perennially interesting subject in a serious but highly engaging way, illuminating the fundamental question "What is Slang" and defending slang--and all forms of nonstandard English--as integral parts of the American language. Why is an expression like "bed head" lost in a lexical limbo, found neither in slang nor standard dictionaries? Why are snow-boarding terms such as "fakie," "goofy foot," "ollie" and "nollie" not considered slang? As he addresses these and other lexical curiosities, Adams reveals that slang is used in part to define groups, distinguishing those who are "down with it" from those who are "out of it." Slang is also a rebellion against the mainstream. It often irritates those who color within the lines--indeed, slang is meant to irritate, sometimes even to shock. But slang is also inventive language, both fun to make and fun to use. Rather than complain about slang as "bad" language, Adams urges us to celebrate slang's playful resistance to the commonplace and to see it as the expression of an innate human capacity, not only for language, but for poetry.

Through the Language Glass

Author: Guy Deutscher
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 144649490X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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"Guy Deutscher is that rare beast, an academic who talks good sense about linguistics... he argues in a playful and provocative way, that our mother tongue does indeed affect how we think and, just as important, how we perceive the world." Observer *Does language reflect the culture of a society? *Is our mother-tongue a lens through which we perceive the world? *Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? In Through the Language Glass, acclaimed author Guy Deutscher will convince you that, contrary to the fashionable academic consensus of today, the answer to all these questions is - yes. A delightful amalgam of cultural history and popular science, this book explores some of the most fascinating and controversial questions about language, culture and the human mind.

Bastard Tongues

Author: Derek Bickerton
Publisher: Hill and Wang
ISBN: 9781429930307
Format: PDF, Docs
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Why Do Isolated Creole Languages Tend to Have Similar Grammatical Structures? Bastard Tongues is an exciting, firsthand story of scientific discovery in an area of research close to the heart of what it means to be human—what language is, how it works, and how it passes from generation to generation, even where historical accidents have made normal transmission almost impossible. The story focuses on languages so low in the pecking order that many people don't regard them as languages at all—Creole languages spoken by descendants of slaves and indentured laborers in plantation colonies all over the world. The story is told by Derek Bickerton, who has spent more than thirty years researching these languages on four continents and developing a controversial theory that explains why they are so similar to one another. A published novelist, Bickerton (once described as "part scholar, part swashbuckling man of action") does not present his findings in the usual dry academic manner. Instead, you become a companion on his journey of discovery. You learn things as he learned them, share his disappointments and triumphs, explore the exotic locales where he worked, and meet the colorful characters he encountered along the way. The result is a unique blend of memoir, travelogue, history, and linguistics primer, appealing to anyone who has ever wondered how languages grow or what it's like to search the world for new knowledge.