The Talking Ape: How Language Evolved

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OUP Oxford, Mar 8, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 304 pages
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In this mind-opening book, Robbins Burling presents the most convincing - and the most readable - 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, and 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. He offers a new account of the route by which we acquired our defining characteristic and explores the changing nature of language as it developed through the course of our evolution. He considers what the earliest forms of communication are likely to have been, how they worked, and why they were deployed. He examines the qualities of mind and brain needed to support the operations of language and the advantages they offered for survival and reproduction. He investigates the beginnings and prehistories of vocabulary and grammar; and connects work in fields extending from linguistics, sign languages, and psychology to palaeontology, evolutionary biology, and archaeology. And he does all this in a style that is crystal-clear, constantly enlivened by wit and humour.
 

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Contents

Preface
U SIGNS AND SYMBOLS
FROM A FEW SOUNDS TO MANY WORDS
POWER GOSSIP AND SEDUCTION
WHAT HAS LANGUAGE DONE TO
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Robbins Burling is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Michigan and has long been interested in language, and human evolution. His books include Hill Farms and Padi Fields: Life in Mainland Southeast Asia, The Passage of Power, Patterns of Language, and The Strong Women of Modhupur.