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The Origins of Complex Language : An Inquiry into the Evolutionary Beginnings of Sentences, Syllables, and Truth - Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy

The Origins of Complex Language

An Inquiry into the Evolutionary Beginnings of Sentences, Syllables, and Truth

Hardcover Published: 1st March 1999
ISBN: 9780198238225
Number Of Pages: 272

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This book proposes a new theory of the origins of human language ability and presents an original account of the early evolution of language. It explains why humans are the only language-using animals, challenges the assumption that language is a consequence of intelligence, and offers a new perspective on human uniqueness. The author draws on evidence from archaeology, linguistics, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology. Making no assumptions about the reader's prior knowledge he first provides an introductory but critical survey of all sources of evidence for language evolution. He then considers what language itself reveals about its own and human origins and evolution. He shows that certain central aspects of language do not, unexpectedly, reflect what they are used for, are maladapted for their function. He considers why this should be, and argues that these odd aspects of language reveal important clues about its evolutionary origin. The Origins of Complex Language fulfils the promise of its title. In doing so it turns upside down conventional theories about the relation between cognition and expression, truth and reference, and the co-evolution of mind and body. Original in conception, brilliantly executed, stylishly written, this book will attract a wide range of readers interested in the evolution and origins of language.

Industry Reviews

`an extremely interesting line of inquiry' Wolfram Hinzen, Linguistics and Philosophy `for those aiming to demote language origins to the status of a mechanical puzzle, this book offers an ingenious solution.' Chris Knight, JRAI `This book is a joy to read and review. It combines insight into differing theoretical approaches with a knowledge of recent developments in language acquisition, the structure of the brain, primatology, and human evolution. In addition, Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy writes in an engaging style that makes the reader want to learn more. What follows is a brief summary of his basic arguments.' Catherine A. Callaghan, Ohio State University `I urge readers with an interest in the evolution of language to buy this book. My brief synopsis cannot do it justice, and the author's detailed exposition of competing theories makes the book an ideal textbook for seminars on language evolution, even for those who disagree with his central thesis. His extensive bibliography facilitates further research into this fascinating subject.' Catherine A. Callaghan, Ohio State University `This book offers a superb review of recent debates on the origins of language, supported by an exhaustive and up-to-date bibliography. This in itself makes it a worthwhile buy. The scholarship is meticulous, displaying close familiarity with most central controversies in the field. Carstairs-McCarthy not only reviews others work; he also presents us wiht an original theory of his own. The novelty of his approach is the relentlessness with which he pursues mechanistic explanations for everything.' Chris Knight, JRAI, June 2000. `I would recommend the book to anyone who is not afraid to confront a controversial approach to ideas about language' Laurie Bauer, Victoria University of Wellington `surprisingly gripping, reading in some ways as much like a detective story as like the serious linguistic and philosophical treatise that it is.' Laurie Bauer, Victoria University of Wellington `I was dazzled by the level of erudition manifested by OCL and its uncanny ability to marshal an astonishingly diverse and seemingly unrelated set of facts in support of its controversial hypothesis. Whatever its flaws, there is nothing like it in the language evolution literature. This book, I predict, will take over from Bickerton's 'Language and Species' the status of point of departure for all linguistically informed studies of biological evolution of grammer' F Newmeyer, Journal of Linguistics

1: Introduction 2: The peculiarities of language 3: Truth and reference 4: Attempts to solve the problems 5: A different solution 6: Apes, anthropology, and the brain 7: Just how unique are we? Appendix Further reading References Index

ISBN: 9780198238225
ISBN-10: 0198238223
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 272
Published: 1st March 1999
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.39 x 15.6  x 1.75
Weight (kg): 0.52