Eve Spoke: Human Language and Human Evolution

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W. W. Norton & Company, 1998 - Social Science - 192 pages
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The human imagination never ceases to be captivated by the quest for its own roots. Who were our ancestors? In the evolutionary clash of brains and brawn, what was it that prevailed and made us, Homo sapiens, uniquely human? Today scientists cite language as the distinctively human feature. But what is language—a sign, a grunt? a sound with collective symbolic meaning? This remarkable book seeks to set the record straight with a critical refinement of the language theory, providing us for the first time with a scientific explanation of how Eve came to speak at all.

Wrestling with the age-old question of why such a large gulf exists between humans and other animals, Philip Lieberman mines both the fossil record and modern neuroscientific techniques to chart the development of the anatomy and brain mechanisms necessary for human language as we know it. Eschewing any notion of a language gene or instinct, he pursues instead an evolutionary path in which environment acts on a biological capacity to reveal the interconnectedness of systems that make us most human: precise motor skills, speech, language, and complex thought. Eve Spoke challenges the dominant scientific theories of language's origins and forges a new understanding of the role of language in our evolution.

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Eve spoke: human language and human evolution

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The debate over the origin of language shows little sign of cooling in this millennium. Contributing to the discourse, Lieberman (cognition and linguistics, Brown Univ.) examines both archaeological ... Read full review


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About the author (1998)

Philip Lieberman is University Professor of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences at Brown University. He has written many books on the brain, evolution, and speech, and his photos are exhibited around the world.

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