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The talking ape : how language evolved by…

The talking ape : how language evolved (2005)

by Robbins Burling

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Spoken language doesn't leave a trace archaeologists can uncover, and because of that if you want to explain how language got started and evolved what remains is to prove if a certain theory holds together when questioned against current knowledge about evolution. Burlings makes it very clear that he deals in hypotheses but he puts a great deal of effort in showing strengths and weaknesses both, in his own theories and other's equally.

The result is a valid working hypothesis for how language evolved.

I do think he misses some points, but on a larger scale those are not important.

For those interested in the subject the book is well worth the effort.

I have written a more extensive review here - http://reconsidering.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/review-the-talking-ape-how-languag... ( )
  Busifer | Oct 2, 2009 |
Although certainly not the last word on the subject, it is a must read for anyone interested in language's evolving -- and isn't everyone interested? ( )
  echaika | Sep 21, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199279403, Hardcover)

Humans never run out of things to say. We explain, we cajole, we gossip, and we flirt--all with the help of language. But how in the space of several million years did we evolve from an ordinary primate that that could not talk to the strange human primate that can't shut up?
In this fascinating, thought-provoking book, Robbins Burling presents the most convincing account of the origins of language ever published, shedding new light on how speech affects the way we think, behave, and relate to each other, and offering us a deeper understanding of the nature of language itself. Burling argues that comprehension, rather than production, was the driving force behind the evolution of language--we could understand words before we could produce them. As he develops this insight, he investigates the first links between signs, sounds, and meanings and explores the beginnings of vocabulary and grammar. He explains what the earliest forms of communication are likely to have been, how they worked, and why they were deployed, suggesting that when language began it was probably much more dependent on words like "poke" or "whoosh," words whose sounds have a close association with what they refer to. Only gradually did language develop the immense vocabulary it has today. Burling also examines the qualities of mind and brain needed to support the operations of language and the selective advantages they offered those able to use them.
Written in a crystal-clear style, constantly enlivened by flashes of wit and humor, here is the definitive account on the birth of language.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:50 -0400)

"In this book, Robbins Burling not only presents the most convincing account of the origins of language yet published: he sheds new light on how language affects the way we think, behave, and relate to each other. He gives us a deeper understanding of the nature of language itself." "The author traces language back to its earliest origins among our distant ape-like forbears several million years ago and charts its growth to the time of our recent human ancestors. He offers a new account of the route by which we acquired our defining characteristic and explores the nature of language as it developed throughout the course of our evolution."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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